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Soviet Deputies Cite Vote, Call for New Union Treaty

March 22, 1991| From Times Wire Services

MOSCOW — Lawmakers urged national and republic leaders on Thursday to use the recent referendum on preserving the union as a springboard to approving a new treaty joining the republics.

After a day of relatively calm debate, the Supreme Soviet, the nation's legislature, approved an eight-point resolution declaring that "a majority of people (agreed) that the fate of the country's peoples is indivisible, that only through joint efforts will they be able to successfully resolve questions of economic, social and cultural development."

The legislature had scheduled the referendum at the urging of President Mikhail S. Gorbachev. The resolution gave Gorbachev another card in his bid to hold the republics together under a new Union Treaty.

Neither Gorbachev nor his chief rival, Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin, have commented publicly on the results of Sunday's referendum.

Nine republics, including the huge Russian Federation, took part in the voting; six boycotted it. More than 82% of eligible voters in the nine republics cast ballots, with about 77% voting in favor, voting commission Chairman Vladimir Orlov told lawmakers.

He said the results will be published within the next few days.

"The referendum and its results can be viewed as the success of Soviet democracy and a triumph of those forces which associate the future of their native land and their personal destinies with the preservation and unity of the U.S.S.R.," Orlov said.

Voters were asked: "Do you consider it necessary to preserve the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal, sovereign republics in which human rights and freedoms of any nationality will be fully guaranteed?"

The resolution approved by deputies Thursday says national and republic governments "shall be governed in their practical actions by the decision of voters to support renewal of the (union) in the referendum, whose results are final and have mandatory force in the whole territory of the U.S.S.R."

Lawmakers recommended that Gorbachev and his Federation Council, made up of leaders of the republics, "energetically carry out work to finish the new Union Treaty . . . ."

They also urged leaders to hasten their work on a new Soviet constitution, something Gorbachev has promised to undertake after the treaty is signed.

Other articles approved Thursday urge the protection of civil rights against ethnic conflict. The resolution also orders the country's chief prosecutor and the Interior Ministry to investigate allegations of voting fraud during the referendum, and scolded the six republics--Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia--that rejected the vote on their territory.

The final point calls on all state agencies and enterprises and the media to "take into account the will of the people in preserving the union government."

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