Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 18

In a peculiar juxtaposition of policy statements, Primakov linked his ministry’s proposal of assistance to Russian regions to the strengthening of Moscow’s authority vis-a-vis the regions as well as to protecting the rights of Russian-speakers abroad. The foreign minister criticized regional leaders for their independent actions abroad and urged the regions to stop acting in areas outside their competence. He called on the regions to follow Moscow’s foreign policy lead and, more broadly, to "focus on preservation of the country’s territorial integrity." Primakov’s remarks suggest that the Foreign Ministry’s plan to boost regional business interests fits into its broader effort to promote CIS integration. Primakov has long been a proponent of that policy, one which views Russian-speaking minorities as a lever for promoting Russian interests in the "near abroad." That Moscow may move to enlist the regions in this effort was suggested by Primakov’s complaint that Russian regions are establishing relations with countries that are violating the rights of Russian-speakers. (5)

Trade Minister Emphasizes New "Strategic Line."