Army and police patrols fanned out across Moscow Friday concentrating on regions of high crime in a crackdown that Russian republic President Boris Yeltsin called the start of dictatorship.
The controversial Interior Ministry order for reinforced patrols nationwide that went into effect Friday met opposition throughout the nation's 15 republics.In the Estonian capital of Tallinn, the militia refused to join the army in the joint patrols.
The parliaments in the republics of Georgia, Armenia and Moldavia have declared the patrolling order invalid and suspended it in their territory.
The official Tass news agency said 63 patrols were sent to high-crime regions in Moscow and stressed that no armored personnel carriers were used.
It said the police and soldiers carried no automatic weapons. The militiamen, it said, were armed with standard gear and nightsticks, while only army officers carried pistols and the enlisted men had bayonets.
Yeltsin urged Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on Thursday to suspend the order for the special patrols to avert new tension.
"The use of armed servicemen can lead to the destabilizing of the political situation and curtailing of rights and freedoms," Yeltsin said on television.
He said his Russian parliament has appealed to the federal Supreme Soviet's constitutional watchdog group to declare the measure invalid and halt its implementation.
On Tuesday, Yeltsin told the newspaper Kuranty: "From Feb. 1 a state of emergency is practically introduced. But nobody consults us, nobody even informs us."
"The latest developments are a serious step toward dictatorship," he said.
Yeltsin's warning of dictatorship echoed that of Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze when he resigned Dec. 20 and warned of a looming crackdown.