More than 300 demonstrators rallied in Lafayette Square and outside the Soviet Embassy on 16th Street NW yesterday to protest Moscow's crackdown on Lithuania and the other Baltic states, and to urge President Bush to halt grain exports and other aid to the Soviets.
The rally, planned weeks ago to protest the plight of political prisoners, was transformed by the weekend's events into angry mourning for Lithuania's dead. "No Blood in the Baltic," read one sign. "The Bear is back," said another.
Viktoras Kaufmann, 24, carried a bouquet of white carnations for the 13 people killed by Soviet troops in Lithuania over the weekend and held a sign that said: "Gorbachev -- Stop Bloodshed in Lithuania."
Kaufmann's parents emigrated from Lithuania in the 1950s, and he said he knows American students who are there working for the government. "They're not exactly safe," he said.
Like others at yesterday's rally, Kaufmann said he thought it too much of a coincidence that Moscow moved on Lithuania at a time when the world is preoccupied with the Persian Gulf crisis.
"They're taking advantage of it," said Ivan Lozowy, an organizer of the demonstration. "Even if Bush can sit still, we can't."