Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 90

” Boris Berezovsky began on may 7 in Moldova a blitz tour to take him to all CIS member countries within a few days. The new executive secretary of the CIS announced in Chisinau that on this tour he intends to “take stock of the past stage in the development of the CIS” and to begin “defining the tasks of a new stage.” There will be “no painful processes,” he declared in Minsk. According to Berezovsky, “Empire is not an insulting word at all, as long as those who are part of the empire share the benefits equally.”

Acknowledging that his “relations with the Belarusan president are complicated,” Berezovsky nevertheless paid tribute to Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s capacity for “rising about these serious problems in order to advance the CIS.” Lukashenka did not reciprocate the compliment. Instead, he publicly implied that Berezovsky’s business interests may come into conflict with his new obligations in the CIS post.

At CIS headquarters in Minsk, his nominal workplace, Berezovsky indicated that he would drop by only occasionally from Moscow. He further implied that he favors relocating those headquarters to the Russian capital. Lukashenka, for his part, is known to oppose the relocation.

Berezovsky stated in each of the three capitals that any reform of the CIS must proceed from economics, which in his view would pave the way to “solving political problems.” He urged all presidents to submit their proposals “through him” as coordinator. The proposals are to be discussed at the “interstate forum” on CIS reforms, which is tentatively scheduled for July. Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi called for a “minimalist community, one on the lowest common denominator, giving economic entities a free rein to find their own forms of cooperation.” Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma similarly urged Berezovsky to press for removal of barriers to trade and transit. (Basapress, Flux, May 7 and 8; Ukrainian agencies, Itar-Tass, ORT, NTV, May 7 through 10)

Berezovsky has only a few hours scheduled at each stopover for a brief meeting with the host president and a media appearance. Under the circumstances, the tour can hardly produce a serious exchange of views. The tour has the appearance of a get-acquainted and public relations exercise of the flamboyant new coordinator of the CIS. (On the significance of the Berezovsky appointment see the Monitor, April 30)