In a Russian media interview, Belarusan President Alyaksandr Lukashenka disclosed and decried Russian presidential envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin’s failed effort to persuade several CIS countries to fall into line with Russian policy on the eve of NATO’s anniversary summit. Chernomyrdin undertook a frantic tour to Tbilisi, Baku and Kyiv on April 20-21. “It was undignified of a great power,” Lukashenka admonished, “for Chernomyrdin to cast about from Shevardnadze to Aliev and from Aliev to Kuchma…. Chernomyrdin tried to persuade the leaders not to attend the summit, or, if they did, to support at least in some measure our Russian-Belarusan position” (Russian agencies, April 23).
Chernomyrdin had also attempted, by telephone at the last moment, to dissuade Uzbek President Islam Karimov from attending (Itar-Tass, April 23). In the event, the four presidents whom Chernomyrdin approached personally not only attended the Washington summit but reaffirmed their pro-Western orientation (see the Monitor, April 26). Lukashenka was the only president of a CIS country who seconded Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s decision to boycott the summit. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev’s internal political calendar prevented him from attending.
BALTS RULE OUT RIVALRY IN NATO ADMISSION QUEUE.