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Soviets Urged to Stop Using Force to Quash Protests

October 5, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Reagan administration on Wednesday urged Soviet authorities to stop using violence to break up peaceful protests in the Baltic republic of Lithuania.

″The United States government deplores the recent pattern of systematic violence by the Soviet authorities directed against peaceful demonstrations in Lithuania,″ said State Department spokesman Ben Justesen.

″The unjustified and unprovoked attacks have injured more than a dozen individuals,″ he said, reading a prepared statement.

Activists in Lithuania and two other Baltic states, Latvia and Estonia, have become increasingly restive under the policy of greater openness in the Soviet Union. They have focused their protests against the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact under which Germany annexed western Poland the Red Army occupied the Baltic states and eastern Poland.

The U.S. government does not recognize Soviet authority over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Soviet authorities have been cracking down on ethnic unrest, most recently last week in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

Activists in Vilnius told The Associated Press that riot police wielding truncheons dispersed tens of thousands of demonstrators.

The State Department statement said that ″in the Sept. 28 demonstration in Vilnius, more than 10 persons were injured by police to prevent the non- violent expression of political views.″

″During the past weeks, organizers of peaceful demonstrations have been injured by unknown persons in attacks believed to be officially sanctioned,″ the statement said. ″We call upon the Soviet authorities to refrain from the use of force against peaceful marchers and to discipline those officials responsible.″

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