Soviet Union Next: A Crackdown - Or a Breakdown?

By resigning, Shevardnadze was warning a friend: Don't rely on force to stem the chaos. But Gorbachev may fear he will be ousted if he doesn't.

He looked and sounded weary as he mounted the podium. Bags bulged under his eyes; his thinning white hair was rumpled; his words came slowly at first. But as he warmed to his theme, his voice grew louder and shook with indignation; he waved his finger and brandished a fist over the lectern. Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, known the world over for his all-weather, ear- to-ear grin, for once was in a boiling, very public rage.

His words were even more shocking than his manner. Shocking to the nearly 2,000 members of the Congress of People's Deputies, meeting in a...

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