On an inspection visit to Kaliningrad, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov ruled out the proposed upgrading of the region’s status to that of an autonomous Baltic Russian Republic within the Russian Federation. The Federation Council’s former chairman, Vladimir Shumeiko, currently running for governor of Kaliningrad, supports that proposal. (See the Monitor, July 20) Nemtsov, however, expressed concern that autonomy and republican status could become stepping stones toward “sovereignty” and final “separation of Kaliningrad from Russia.” The proposal, moreover, “insults the feelings of the troops which guard our Western borders. With NATO expanding to the east, the proposal is complete idiocy.”
Nemtsov announced that the Russian government has decided to maintain the region’s status as a “special economic zone,” but, nevertheless, to reduce its tax breaks. Speaking in the city of Immanuel Kant, in the square where the Prussian Kings’ coronation church had stood until the Soviet destruction of Koenigsberg, Nemtsov urged its current residents to turn the city into “a Russian Bangkok.” (BNS, Russian agencies, July 26 and 27)
YOUNG FRONT DEMONSTRATES IN MINSK ON INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY.