MOSCOW, JAN. 31 -- The parliament of the giant Russian republic appealed to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev today to rescind an order that the army join police in patrolling major Soviet cities starting Friday.
The vote protesting the patrols came on the eve of an important meeting of leaders of the Soviet Union's 15 republics. At least a half-dozen republics have publicly opposed to the measure, which the central government has depicted as an attempt to strengthen law and order but which liberals have denounced as tantamount to a state of emergency.
The Russian parliament asked a constitutional watchdog committee to rule on the legality of a Dec. 29 decree by the ministers of defense and interior establishing special groups of soldiers and police to patrol major cities in the event of a threat to public security. The decree was endorsed by Gorbachev earlier this week.
"The use of armed servicemen on city streets can lead to the destabilization of the political situation and to a considerable curtailing or violation of rights and freedoms," the Russian parliament said, voting 130 to 13 to request suspension of the measure.
In view of the opposition from the republics, it is now unclear whether the patrolling, on foot and in armored personnel carriers, will begin Friday as scheduled. In a newspaper interview this week, Interior Minister Boris Pugo was quoted as saying it would be up to the republics to decide whether to accept the patrols.
The Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party, meanwhile, met and called for immediate restoration of constitutional order in the country, while expressing sorrow at the deaths of unarmed civilians in the Baltics.