Soviet Union War of Nerves

Losing patience with Lithuania, Gorbachev issues orders to cease and desist. Is he willing to risk bloodshed to keep secessionists in line?

On the surface the two men would seem to be absurdly mismatched. Mikhail Gorbachev is a master politician who has pushed aside all competitors for power and won countless political battles in his struggle to reform the Soviet Union. He has an army of 4 million at his disposal, and has demonstrated his willingness to use it to crush civil disobedience in the Soviet Union's restive Transcaucasian republics. By contrast, Vytautas Landsbergis, the newly elected President of the tiny Baltic state of Lithuania (pop. 3.7 million), is a bookish, bespectacled musicologist who never before held political office. He presides over a...

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