Latvian purge seen as part of Kremlin power struggle
The anticorruption drive launched by the late Soviet leader Yuri Andropov is still alive in the Baltic republic of Latvia. ''It seems the most extensively reported purge is in Latvia, but it is happening everywhere,'' says a Latvian-born analyst of Soviet affairs based in Munich. ''It is part of the power struggle in the Kremlin. The KGB (the state security agency) is hardening its base of support in the republics.''
The Latvian crackdown may be an effort to win popularity for the new Communist Party secretary, Boris Pugo, who has been called one of the most repressive heads of the Latvian KGB in recent memory. Pugo announced the expulsion of 122 party members in a speech published last month in the Latvian party daily Cina.
The speech also broke some new ground. ''An aspect of Pugo's speech we haven't seen before is an attack on excessive paperwork and committee meetings, '' said Atis Lejins, a Latvian-born member of the staff of the Swedish Institute for International Affairs.
In his wide-ranging attack on corruption, abuse of office, and the falsification of economic data, Pugo is addressing some of the deepest frustrations of Latvians.
A middle-class Latvian woman said about the time Mr. Andropov came to power that she had given up going to stores and markets, preferring ''private arrangements'' because of the frustration of standing in line and facing shortages.
Recent visitors to Riga, the Latvian capital, say food supplies have improved noticeably from a few years ago. But Latvians are still most distressed by the discomforts of everyday life and the corruption and inefficiency of the bureaucracy that causes them. Managers are frustrated when they must routinely report production that never took place, or inventories that do not exist.