Back in The Baltics

When underground electric cables had to be laid in the Estonian capital of Tallinn this summer, a call went out for community help. Working mostly with shovels, some 5,000 volunteers dug a trench more than a mile long in one night. A Soviet television reporter asked a ruddy-faced young Estonian why he had come. "I want to help so that perestroika doesn't begin just up there," the volunteer explained with a wave of the arm, "but with me here, with this shovel."

Those must have been gratifying words for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who has repeatedly pushed for less talk and...

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