MOSCOW, DEC. 30 -- Lawmakers in the Soviet republic of Moldavia today appeared to head off a possible confrontation with Moscow by agreeing to reconsider some of their nationalist demands.
The republic's legislature agreed to look again at a new language law that would require that Moldavian be the dominant tongue in the multi-ethnic republic, which borders on Romania. It also ruled that independence declarations by Moldavia's Gagauz and Russian minorities were "inexpedient" and backed off plans to form a Moldavian military force independent of Moscow's control.
Eight days ago, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev gave the republic 10 days to reexamine the language law and other possibly discriminatory legislation and ordered the two minority groups to abandon their claims to independence. Failure to comply with the nine-point decree would force Moscow to take "necessary measures," Gorbachev said.
After the decree, some analysts here said the Kremlin would begin a crackdown on the Soviet Union's rebellious republics, starting with Moldavia. Today, Anatoli Lizetski, a leader of Moldavia's Inter-Front movement, said the legislature's action "doesn't solve everything, but I think Gorbachev is a sufficiently flexible politician, and we should avoid a confrontation for now."
"People were afraid that Gorbachev would declare presidential rule here sometime in the beginning of the year, but it looks like we can avoid that now," Lizetski said in Kishinev, Moldavia's capital.
In recent weeks, Gorbachev has taken a hard line against secession movements in the country and has insisted that civil war can only be avoided if all 15 Soviet republics sign a new Treaty of the Union that would preserve much of Moscow's power. Most of the republics, including Moldavia, have demanded that power be decentralized.
Lizetski said the Moldavian legislature "simply could not capitulate," however, on the republic's insistence that it was illegally annexed by Moscow in 1940 as part of a secret pact with Nazi Germany.
Many analysts here say Gorbachev may now begin putting greater pressure on the Baltic republics to temper their demands for independence.
Latvia, where there have been sharp conflicts between the Soviet military leadership and civilians, has been the scene of much tension recently.
The Latvian legislature infuriated the military when it decided to cut off troops' energy and food supplies temporarily, and Latvians have expressed concern about a recent series of explosions at official sites. Latvian officials have speculated that the military staged the blasts to provide an excuse to begin a crackdown.