The chances for early ratification of the START II treaty by Russia’s parliament lessened considerably yesterday as lawmakers voted to postpone parliamentary hearings on the treaty from June 16 until sometime this fall. The vote was the latest skirmish in what has developed into a drawn-out battle between lawmakers and the Kremlin. The Russian government supports the treaty, and President Boris Yeltsin has ordered his defense and foreign ministers to lobby parliamentarians for ratification.
Yesterday’s postponement vote came on a motion by ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party. The mercurial Zhirinovsky told reporters that he does not oppose briefings for lawmakers by government ministers, but insisted that they not be granted the status of parliamentary hearings. Another of the Duma’s hardline extremists, retired general Albert Makashov of the Communist Party, complained yesterday that Russian military leaders had been ordered to pressure Duma members into ratifying START II. (Russian agencies, June 10) Russia’s military establishment supports the treaty as the best opportunity for Russia to maintain rough strategic parity with the United States.
CRITICAL REACTIONS IN MOSCOW, WASHINGTON.