The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mikhail Gorbachev is difficult to applaud. It was the alliance of Western countries for more than four decades that ended the Cold War and liberated541417843it started -- the domination of Eastern Europe and minority groups within its own borders.

Mikhail Gorbachev did not set out to peacefully transform Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to a new political and economic system. I suggest he was perceptive enough to see that the Communist system was economically and politically spent and that its collapse was inevitable. In effect, he went along for the ride. The leaders of the Western alliance, since the end of World War II, are more deserving of the award. SAM BESACHIO Springfield

While Mikhail Gorbachev has deserved consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize, granting him the award while he still actively seeks to preserve the illegal borders of the world's last oppressive empire is inappropriate and premature.

Mr. Gorbachev's commitment to democracy and self-determination appears to apply only outside the Soviet Union. For all the goodwill he has shown in Eastern Europe, he did not hesitate to use force to crush the Popular Front of Azerbaijan, engineer the economic blockade against Lithuania and to counteract the popular movements in Latvia and Kazakh. His stubborn refusal to acknowledge and reverse Stalin's illegal annexation of the Baltic states demonstrates neither political skill nor courage. By awarding Mr. Gorbachev the peace prize, the Nobel Committee tacitly endorses and encourages these divisive and potentially explosive policies.

If the Nobel prize is intended to reward merit and strengthen the hand of "the politically needy," Jim Hoagland's suggestion that Mr. Gorbachev share the prize with Vaclav Havel should go one step further: One third should have gone to Mr. Gorbachev for allowing peaceful change in Eastern Europe, one third to President Havel for realizing that change and one third to the Baltic popular fronts for spearheading the peaceful democratic rebirth of the Soviet Union's captive nations.

If anyone is politically needy, it is the besieged Baltic governments. Ironically, their greatest opposition comes from the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. OJARS KALNINS Public Relations Director American Latvian Association in the United States Inc. Rockville