The maverick governor of Russia’s Primorye territory, Yevgeny Nazdratenko, joined various left-wing political groups on July 31 in opposing a landing by U.S. Marines at a site near the city of Vladivostok. The Marine landing, scheduled to take place on August 6, is part of a broader series of military maneuvers and contacts between Russia and U.S. forces that are to last from August 4-10. The exercises are being called “Cooperation at Sea-98” and seek to promote cooperation between Russia and the United States in naval rescue missions and in rendering aid to areas hit by national disasters. This year’s exercises are part of a program of joint military drills between Russia’s Pacific Fleet and the U.S. Seventh Fleet that began in 1994. Russia and the United States have alternated in hosting the exercises.
Local Communist and other left-wing groups began protesting the Marine landing last week. They have called the landing a national “humiliation” for Russia and vowed to form a human chain in order to prevent the marines from landing. (See Monitor, July 30) On July 31, a regional Russian Communist leader called the landing a “sacrilegious action infringing on Russia’s sovereignty.” He also suggested that the Marine landing was “particularly insulting” because it is to coincide with events commemorating the 60th anniversary of a Russian-Japanese battle at Lake Khasan. (Itar-Tass, July 31)
Nazdratenko backed the left wing groups on this several and several other points, and said that the country’s political and military leadership should have thought to conduct the marine landing somewhere farther from Vladivostok’s city limits. But Nazdratenko was supportive of the naval exercises more generally, saying that they will promote friendly relations between Russia and the United States and help reduce the risk of military confrontation in the Asia-Pacific region. (Itar-Tass, July 31)
LEBED’S PARTY HOLDS CONGRESS.