Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 30

Russian Duma deputies Sergei Kovalev and Konstantin Borovoi disclosed yesterday that Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov called for economic sanctions against Estonia at the Duma’s February 7 closed session. Kovalev, a human rights campaigner, and Borovoi, leader of the Economic Freedom party, recounted that the Communists "gave Primakov a standing ovation" and speculated that the foreign minister may be engaged in an effort to win the Communist party’s favor through such proposals. The two democratic deputies came out in favor of the Baltic states’ accession to NATO, citing the shared goal of "defending democracy in Russia against communism and imperialism." (BNS, February 11). It is unclear whether Primakov included Latvia in his proposals, as he did when first airing them last month.

Also yesterday, Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky made public the "long-term guidelines on Russia’s policy toward the Baltic states," a document commissioned by Boris Yeltsin. The published summary prioritizes Russia’s objectives as: preventing the Baltic states’ accession to NATO and "preserving their non-bloc status" (which would imply ruling out accession to the West European Union as well); mass naturalization of the "Russian-speaking population" resident there as of 1991, including the right of family reunion (apparently with relatives from Russia); "strengthening the position of Russian capital in the Baltic states’ economies;" "creating favorable conditions for transit to the Kaliningrad region" (from Russia); and cooperation to "liquidate criminal threats against Russia from Baltic territory, a problem which is becoming increasingly acute." (Interfax, Itar-Tass, February 11)

At the declarative level at least, the presidential guidelines appear to herald a further intensification of Russian pressures on the region, except perhaps in the area of economic policy. Unlike the Foreign Ministry, which envisages possible sanctions (see above), the presidential document calls for greater penetration of Russian capital–a doubtful blessing to the Balts. The top-priority goal of keeping all three Baltic states "non-bloc" may expose Lithuania to a level of pressure until now reserved for Estonia and Latvia. The provision on improving Russian transit to Koenigsberg/Kaliningrad targets Lithuania, which currently provides that transit under terms carefully worked out to protect the country’s security.

Lucinschi Solicits NATO Security Guarantees.