Soviet Union Cutting the Party Line

Moscow sweats to keep control

"The present Communist Party and state leadership will not permit the breakup of the federal state." With that harsh comment on the Lithuanian party's decision to break with Moscow, Mikhail Gorbachev laid down the limit on Soviet political reform. After months of acquiescence while communist parties across Eastern Europe went their own way, Gorbachev made it clear that a similar move by any of the 15 republics of the U.S.S.R. would be considered "illegitimate." No group had yet dared to defy Moscow in this way, and Gorbachev let his anger show. "If we cross this line," he declared in a voice...