Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis said for the first time Friday that he supports freezing the republic's independence declaration, and he called for a 100-day moratorium.
Landsbergis told the republican Parliament in Vilnius that he and Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene had drafted a compromise resolution declaring a moratorium on the March 11 independence proclamation, and he asked deputies to support it.Several deputies had said they would follow Landsbergis' lead on the divisive issue, but the outcome of a vote on the independence freeze remained difficult to forecast despite his support for a moratorium.
A former head of the Sajudis nationalist group that took over the Lithuanian government in Feb. 24 elections, Landsbergis cautioned that no independence freeze should take effect until President Mikhail Gorbachev's economic blockade ends and talks on secession begin.
"I would like to ask you not to attack this word (moratorium) like a red flag," he said. "If Gorbachev wants this word, why can't we give it to him?"
Landsbergis and Prunskiene held a surprise 90-minute meeting with Gorbachev in Moscow Wednesday, Landsbergis' second with the Soviet leader in two days.
Lawmakers had expected to vote on the moratorium proposal Friday, but the legislature resumed discussions after a lunch break with a long list of deputies still scheduled to speak.
In other Eastern European developments:
EAST GERMANY - The top prosecutor has opened a murder probe against former Communist leader Erich Honecker stemming from the deaths of people who tried to flee the country. Honecker is believed to be the first hard-line communist leader ousted in the pro-democracy revolutions that swept Eastern Europe to be targeted in a murder investigation. Acting chief prosecutor Guenter Seidel also is investigating soldiers suspected of having killed would-be escapees, according to the news agency ADN.
YUGOSLAVIA - Prime Minister Ante Markovic announced proposals for privatizing state-owned industries as part of a plan to turn Yugoslavia from communism to democracy. In a 100-minute speech to Parliament, Markovic also called for speedier political reform.
CZECHOSLOVAKIA - President Vaclav Havel proposed deep cuts in the nation's army and urged the first freely elected Parliament in four decades to help create a modern democratic state.
POLAND - Farmers occupying the Agriculture Ministry in Warsaw to demand higher government prices for their products took Deputy Prime Minister Czeslaw Janicki as a symbolic hostage Friday after they failed to reach agreement with a parliamentary delegation.