Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 91

At a Moscow briefing yesterday, CIS executive secretary Ivan Korotchenya held up "Russia-Belarus relations as an example for all the others" in the CIS. He also said that Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Aleksandr Lukashenko are setting the pace of CIS integration, as "no one would move toward solving the problems if there [was] no active position on the part of Yeltsin and Lukashenko." Korotchenya contrasted Belarusian policy to that of Ukraine, which "lacks a constructive attitude in its relations with Moscow, even at the level of verbal remarks." He chastised Western countries for giving Belarus the cold shoulder "since Russia and Belarus started moving toward real integration" and for aiding Ukraine economically "in exchange for political concessions" from Kiev. And he charged that "the Americans simply can’t stand the CIS, it just doesn’t exist for them," despite "an understanding attitude" toward the body which he claimed to see in some West European statements. (Interfax, Russian TV, May 8)

Korotchenya, a Belarusian, is a Kremlin loyalist whose key task is to prearrange the agenda of CIS meetings in consultation with Russia’s presidency and government. His remarks can only reinforce most member countries’ concern over the use of the CIS as an instrument of Russian policy. The remarks also illustrate the fact that Yeltsin and the Russian government, while in conflict with pro-Soviet forces at home, work with those forces in certain "near abroad" areas to help restore Moscow’s control there.

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