MOSCOW, JULY 27 -- Soviet President Andrei Gromyko and Crimean Tatar protesters faced off here today in a Kremlin effort to avert further Tatar demonstrations, but the meeting ended inconclusively with the Tatars rejecting Gromyko's plea that they leave Moscow.
The protesters had demonstrated for four days near Red Square demanding the right to return to their homeland in the Crimea, abolished by the Kremlin in 1944. They ended the protests yesterday after Soviet authorities promised them a meeting with Gromyko.
The president "is obviously against our rights to return to the Crimea," said Sabrina Seytova, one of the 21 Tatars who attended the meeting. The Tatars have demanded a meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and protested a dispatch last week by the official news agency Tass, which reported that they had collaborated with the German Army during World War II. The Tatars were expelled by the government to Soviet central Asia for their alleged collaboration.
They also have demanded that a Tatar representative be appointed to a commission formed last week to examine their claims.
Today's meeting with Gromyko symbolized a new Kremlin approach to public demonstrations, which are usually heavily controlled and quashed within minutes after they start.
Seytova said the Tatars would remain in the Soviet capital until they gained autonomy.