Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 109

For the time being, the CIS, its two economic subgroups and Moscow at the center seem only capable of signing meaningless documents and complicate even further an already chaotic situation in mutual economic relations. The only certainty in those relations is the precipitate drop in Russia’s trade with all CIS countries save Belarus (see the Monitor, May 11) and the effort by all the member countries–again save Belarus–to reduce economic reliance on Russia in order to avoid the fallout from that country’s crisis.

In a routine action, the prime ministers elected their Ukrainian colleague, Valery Pustovoytenko, as chairman of the Prime Ministers’ Council, succeeding Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov. The procedure conforms to a recent top-level decision–a symbolic satisfaction to the member countries–to rotate that chairmanship rather than have it occupied permanently by Russia. The timing of Pustovoytenko’s elevation is fortuitous, as the succession proceeds according to the Russian alphabetical order of the countries’ names. His elevation in the CIS will, however, complicate the effort just launched by the Ukrainian communists and socialists to dismiss Pustovoytenko by a parliamentary vote of no confidence in order to strike a blow against President Leonid Kuchma (Eastern Economist Daily (Kyiv), June 7; Itar-Tass, June 4-5).

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