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Independence Movement Wins in Estonia Parliament

March 20, 1990

MOSCOW (AP) _ Independence supporters won Estonia’s parliamentary elections, giving secessionist movements a sweep of the three Baltic republics, according to preliminary results released Tuesday.

In Moscow, activists of the Democratic Russia bloc that took control of the city council in Sunday’s runoffs debated what to do with their power, but they appeared divided and lacked a platform.

Estonia’s initial results indicated candidates from the People’s Front won at least 38 of the 105 seats in the republic’s new parliament, said Rina Lohmus, a correspondent for official Estonian Radio. At least 16 seats were taken by the Estonian Committee, a more radical independence group.

A group of small parties supporting the People’s Front platform also won several seats, according to the radio. Results from about 15 seats still had not been determined, Lohmus said.

The secessionists’ win followed the electoral victories of independence movements in the neighboring Baltic republics of Latvia and Lithuania.

In Lithuania, pro-independence lawmakers declared their republic’s independence from the Soviet Union about two weeks after Feb. 24 balloting, widening their split with Moscow.

Latvia’s elections were Sunday, and the pro-independence movement won a majority. However, it remained unclear whether it could muster the two-thirds vote needed to declare independence.

″More people supported the People’s Front than we expected,″ said Lempi Tekone, a spokeswoman for the Estonian group.

She said the People’s Front anticipated having the support of about three- quarters of the deputies. Official results were not expected until Friday.

Yedinstvo, a group representing primarily Russian-speaking residents who strongly oppose the Baltic independence drive, would have about 25 percent of the seats, she said.

Ms. Lohmus said Free Estonia, an election group created by the republic’s Communist Party, had won about 10 seats. Among those who won seats from Free Estonia were the party leader Vaino Vyalyas and Premier Indrik Toome, she said.

The Estonian Communist Party has not worked as hard for independence as many Estonian activists would like, but it is expected to support independence in any important legislative votes.

However, Estonia is unlikely to follow Lithuania in pushing hard and fast for independence. Activists say the parliament is likely to discuss sharing power with the Estonian Congress, a citizens’ gathering demanding independence, and press for talks with the Kremlin.

Reformers also claimed victories in key runoff elections held Sunday in Russia, Byelorussia and the Ukraine, the Slavic heartland that accounts for about 80 percent of Soviet territory and two-thirds of its population.

Some 1,610 runoffs were held in these republics after no candidate polled 50 percent of the vote March 4 in the main round of elections for local parliaments and councils.

The Moscow electoral commission said 55 of the capital’s 65 seats in Russia’s parliament were dominated by candidates of the reformist Democratic Russia alliance.

Democratic Russia won 263 seats in the 465-seat Moscow city council, ensuring itself a 60 percent majority. But it was unclear whether members of the alliance would be able to agree on a joint program.

″We came to the bloc from various groups because we all shared some democratic views,″ a councilman who gave his name as Fadeyev told a meeting of Democratic Russia activists at Moscow State University. ″But now this stage is over. We see that there are Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats and even Christian Socialists among us.″

″We must be united. The only hope of the old party apparatus is to cause a split among us,″ said Sergei Sukhorukov, another councilman.

Russian Parliament member Gavriil Popov, who presided over the tense gathering of about 150 activists, suggested the alliance appoint committees to work out the group’s platform and proposals for reforms.

The only immediate measures were a request to Moscow’s prosecutor to investigate anti-Semitic leaflets that appeared during the elections and called Democratic Russia a ″United Jewish Front,″ and a demand that local newspapers include party affiliation when naming election winners.

In Leningrad, reformists of a group called the Democratic Elections-90 bloc won 60 percent to 70 percent of the city council seats, the official Tass news agency said.

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