Soviet Union: The Iron Fist

As Moscow orders troops to the restive republics, separatists conclude that the long-feared crackdown is under way

The general growled his warning over the telephone. As elite Soviet paratroopers were ordered into the Baltic republics early last week, Fyodor Kuzmin, the regional commander, rang up the presidents of secessionist Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia with a stony message. If your people obstruct the mission to round up draft dodgers, he said, the troops will shoot. Four days later, in an atmosphere of mounting confrontation, General Kuzmin kept his word.

Moving to seize Lithuania's self-defense headquarters and main printing plant in Vilnius, armed assault forces opened fire at the plant, known as Press House, shooting into the air and smashing...

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