Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 104

Duma chairman Ivan Rybkin called, at a Moscow news conference September 28, for accelerated reintegration of Russia with ex-Soviet republics, starting with Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan (where Slavs outnumber Kazakhs). Rybkin envisaged a political, economic, and military "alliance" of the four countries, cautioning that "a closer union would be unprofitable for Russia," as "we don’t want to be simpletons and work to our own disadvantage." Rybkin would reserve political reunification for later on, but felt certain that referendums in these countries would even now produce decisions to reunify with Russia. The preceding day Rybkin’s ally in that bloc, Yuri Petrov, called at a news conference for the formation of a confederation of those four countries, which can be later on be joined by the ex-Soviet countries of Central Asia and Transcaucasus. All the member countries would then "have to sacrifice some rights" for their common good. (16)

These exhortations emanate from the "left-of-center" side of the "party of power," set up to support Boris Yeltsin. But the officials apparently want to have their cake and eat it too: they intimate that they are not prepared at this time to bear the cost of a reconstituted union in terms of subsidies to the republics, as the former union’s "center" used to. This consideration creates a dilemma for many Russian nationalists who desire to reconstitute the former union but at the same time decry what they regard as Russia’s sacrifices in subsidizing the other republics in that union.