Soviet Union With Georgia on His Mind

Gorbachev faces yet another violent eruption of nationalism

Shortly after noon last Thursday, crockery rattled as a quake hit Tbilisi, the capital of the Soviet Republic of Georgia. It was a minor tremor -- especially when compared with the political convulsion that shook the city four days earlier. Then, at a rally that stretched into the early-morning hours of Sunday, tens of thousands of Georgians listened to a megaphone of speakers demand greater freedom from Moscow. Many protesters carried the black-white-and-claret flag that waved during Georgia's most recent period of independence, from 1918 to 1921. Others hoisted signs that read DOWN WITH THE DECAYING SOVIET EMPIRE.

At 4 a.m.,...

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