Soviet Union: The Edge of Darkness

If Moscow and the Baltics do not find common ground soon, perestroika could perish in violence and repression

New concrete walls seal off the narrow cobblestone streets leading to the Latvian parliament in Riga's Old Town. Four barricades block access to the small square in front of the building. Milling around bonfires near the parliament's entrance, wearing combat gear and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, are militiamen loyal to the republic's separatist government. At other bonfires in nearby Cathedral Square, hundreds of Latvians stand vigil through the night, listening to passionate music and somber poetry blaring from loudspeakers.

The scenes suggested a forward outpost of civilization girding itself for an impending attack by barbarians -- and such an impression would...

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