Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 28

Duma chairman Communist Gennady Seleznev, together with Vice Chairman Sergei Baburin, CIS Affairs Committee Chairman Georgy Tikhonov, and other Communist and ultranationalist deputies received the leader of the unrecognized Abkhaz republic in the Duma between January 31 and February 5. Vladislav Ardzinba’s hosts in the Duma organized a news conference for him, encouraged Abkhazia’s political demands, and criticized the resolutions of the January 19 CIS summit on economic sanctions against Abkhazia. The Duma voted overwhelmingly January 31 to require parliamentary ratification of any sanctions against Abkhazia; its Communist and nationalist majority would undoubtedly reject sanctions if the issue comes to a vote.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry reacted by protesting against the meetings in the Duma as a "gross violation of the CIS summit decisions." Georgian parliament chairman Zhurab Zvania warned in a message to Seleznev that Georgia may boycott the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly in protest against the Duma’s "destructive, pro-separatist" gesture. Zvania said that an equivalent action by Tbilisi would have been to invite Dzhokhar Dudayev to the Georgian parliament. Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze, speaking on radio, endorsed Zvania’s message. (12)

Tikhonov is chairman of the Soyuz [Union] People’s Movement, a pro-Communist organization which supports the restoration in one form of another of the union state. His selection as chairman of the Duma’s CIS Affairs Committee seems to presage continuity in that committee’s policy, set by former chairman Konstantin Zatulin in the preceding Duma, to support secessionist movements in certain CIS countries as a form of pressure against those countries. Duma Vice Chairman Baburin and Abkhaz leader Ardzinba are members of the original Soyuz group in the former USSR Supreme Soviet, of which Ardzinba was vice chairman.

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