Salvation Committee Spokesman Says 'Civil War' in Lithuania With AM-Soviet-Baltics, Bjt
Jan. 14, 1991
VILNIUS, U.S.S.R. (AP) _ A spokesman for the shadowy National Salvation Committee said Monday the standoff between the Soviet army and Lithuanian independence-seekers amounts to civil war, and presidential rule was the only solution.
Committee spokesman Juozas Jarmalavicius had announced the group's formation at a news conference Friday. After Sunday's bloody assault on the Lithuanian radio and TV tower, it claimed it had control of the republic.
''There is now a civil war in Lithuania. This confrontation could get wider,'' the burly, lifelong Communist said.
In an unscheduled interview with The AP at the entrance to the Communist Party Central Committee, Jarmalavicius could not be specific about what he thought would happen. But he seemed sure Lithuania's democratically elected government was not the only important force in the republic.
''Nobody has power,'' he said, but quickly added, ''Maybe there are two kinds of power.''
The committee fully supports Soviet rule in Lithuania, which was forcibly annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940.
''If there is not the immediate introduction of presidential rule, then there could be more deaths,'' Jarmalavicius said.
He said martial law was an option.
Jarmalavicius, 51, said events in Lithuania reminded him of the late 1940s and early 1950s when bands of pro-Soviet forces battled Lithuanian anti-Soviet activists. Thousands of casualties resulted and tens of thousands of Lithuanians were sent to labor camps in Siberia for opposing Soviet rule.
He refused to identify committee members or leaders, or give locations, saying members' lives were in danger.
''Who would talk to us now anyway?'' he asked as he stood in front of the Central Committee building, where Soviet and Lithuanian flags were at half- staff in memory of those who killed Sunday.
Jarmalavicius, chief of the Lithuanian Communist Party's ideology committee, said he thought the committee was in contact with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
Jarmalavicius said he still slept at home and was not carrying a pistol when he moved around Vilnius. He denied he was a member of the National Salvation Committee and said he communicated with its members by courier.