The Council of Defense Ministers of CIS member countries held a special, closed-door session on January 28 at the CIS Military Cooperation Headquarters in Moscow. Six countries sent their ministers while four others sent officers below ministerial rank. Moldova and Turkmenistan did not attend. The session recommended to the CIS countries’ presidents that Army Gen. Viktor Samsonov be retained as Chief of the CIS Military Cooperation Staff concurrently with his service as Russia’s first deputy defense minister and chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff.
The Defense Ministers made two additional military personnel decisions. Maj. Gen. Dolya Babenkov was confirmed as a replacement for Lt. Gen. Vasily Yakushev as commander of the nominally CIS — in practice all-Russian — "peacekeeping" troops in the Georgian-Abkhaz theater. Babenkov, 51, is an artillery officer and an ethnic Belarusan from Russia. He was appointed acting commander in Abkhazia last month. (Itar-Tass, January 29. See Monitor, January 29) The Council also named Lt. Gen. Boris Dyukov to replace Lt. Gen. Viktor Zavarzin as commander of Russia’s 201st motor-rifle division in Tajikistan. Dyukov, 51, a tank officer, has until now been first deputy commander of the Group of Russian Forces in Transcaucasus. (Itar-Tass, January 29) The 201st division, plus token rear-echelon units from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, forms the "CIS peacekeeping force" in Tajikistan. The session endorsed Dyukov’s nomination pro-forma and their presidents should now confirm it.
The session also agreed to extend by six months the mandates of nominally CIS "peacekeeping" troops — in Tajikistan until June 31 and in Abkhazia until July 31 — and endorsed new commanders for those contingents. There was no word on a Russian-proposed draft plan dealing with conflict prevention and conflict settlement on the territories of CIS member countries, which was reportedly resubmitted at this meeting. The Council scheduled its next meeting, a regular one, for March. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, January 28; Nezavisimaya gazeta, January 29)
Last October Russian president Boris Yeltsin moved Samsonov from the CIS position to his present posts in the Russian Defense Ministry, where he replaced Army Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov. Yeltsin simultaneously nominated Kolesnikov for Samsonov’s CIS post. However, at least some countries did not accept Kolesnikov.
The Defense Ministers’ decisions on Abkhazia and Tajikistan were presented as having been made by the Council as a body. In fact, those decisions were most likely reached only by the countries directly interested in each case. The other delegations probably invoked the "interested-party principle" to avoid involvement in those matters.
Moldova’s Old-New Government Takes Over.