In an unprecedented gesture, Russian Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov has sent parallel messages of reassurance to the presidents and the chairmen of parliament of the three Baltic states. Speaking as the leader of Russia’s new governing majority, Zyuganov presents the internal and international agenda of his Communist Party, the “people’s patriotic forces” and a Russian “government of national interests” to be based on those forces.
The virtually identical letters purport to vow that Russia’s leftist-nationalist majority will guarantee human rights and civil liberties, a functional democratic political system, a market economy (albeit “reasonably regulated by the state”), observance of Russia’s international commitments and noninterference in other countries’ internal affairs. The messages as reported do not address any of the contentious issues introduced by Moscow in its relations with the Baltic states.
Beyond generalities and democratic verbiage, the one operative part in Zyuganov’s message calls for including Russia in a “common European” security system. It also pays lip service to pan-Europeanism (ignoring NATO and the United States). Further, it stigmatizes any “new lines of division” as “inadmissible” (BNS, Itar-Tass, September 18). These are the familiar slogans in which the Kremlin and Yevgeny Primakov’s Foreign Ministry have couched their resistance to NATO’s enlargement. Zyuganov’s reiteration of those slogans reflects the consensus that has prevailed all along among the Russian government and its leftist-nationalist opponents on that issue. His message presages basic continuity in Moscow’s official policy toward the Baltic states, now that the hardline opposition becomes a governing force.