concurred. A report issued on March 12 determined that Latvian police had acted to uphold public order and that they had evidenced no ethnic motivations in breaking up the demonstration.
But news of the March incident generated a cavalcade of criticism from Moscow, where Russian leaders appeared uninterested in such details. The Latvian authorities were accused of serious human rights violations, and the Kremlin warned that Russia might level economic sanctions against Latvia in response. As rhetoric in Russia grew hotter, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin proclaimed that the "Russian people [are] in shock" over what he said was Latvia’s policy of "apartheid." Chernomyrdin’s remarks were described as an official Russian position. Conciliatory efforts by Latvia’s Foreign Ministry were coldly rebuffed in Moscow.
The actions by Moscow appear to have been aimed in part at undermining solidarity between the three newly independent Baltic states. More broadly and more importantly, Moscow’s heavy-handed protests seem also to reflect a continuing effort by Russian leaders to discredit the Baltic countries in the eyes of the West, and thus to obstruct their eventual entry into such Western institutions as