March 27, 1990 – the continuing story of breakaway republics from the Soviet Union. This time it was Lithuania – and this time Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev decided to play hardball. He sent his troops after Lithuanian deserters in the middle of the night, beating some of them bloody. It was a stunning turn of events for many Independence supporters in Vilnius who expressed alarm that it meant a crackdown and a return to the status quo. The night of Soviet military action was met by a day of outrage among independence leaders. It began when Soviet troops broke into a Psychiatric hospital at 3:00 am and seized about half of the 39 Lithuanians who had deserted the Russian army; the others escaped in the confusion. And then a pre-dawn takeover of a Communist Party downtown office building.
Later at Parliament, the Republic’s leader Vyutatas Landsbergis addressed, in a national broadcast that people display “maximum calm”. His fear was that any incident against a Soviet soldier or citizen would be an excuse for Moscow to claim the situation was out of control; Moscow’s excuse to send in the troops and simply take over.
Reaction from the U.S. State Department was seemingly ambiguous. It came after several appeals from Washington to Moscow, asking Gorbachev not to upset U.S.-Soviet relations. While the President and the Secretary of State decided how the U.S. was going to react to the latest series of events in Lithuania. On the one hand, there were several reminders that the Soviets had been promising all along not to use force. And there were statements from the White House and the State Department that any efforts to coerce or intimidate Lithuanians could be counter-productive for U.S./Soviet relations. But on the other hand, there was confusion about just what exactly the U.S. regarded as “excess force”. It wasn’t known just how the government was regarding this situation.
And in East Germany, it was discovered what appeared to be a second secret mass grave just north of Berlin. It was believed to hold victims of Stalin’s Secret Police just after the end of World War 2.
And so much more went on, this March 27 in 1990 – as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.