Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 207

CIS executive secretary Ivan Korotchenya says that he will fight to retain his post, which he has held since the organization’s inception. Interviewed at CIS headquarters, Korotchenya acknowledged that he agreed with the Russian leadership at the recent CIS summit in Chisinau that it was time to rotate his and other CIS top posts, as required by statute and as desired by member countries. (See Monitor, October 23, 24, 27) However, Korotchenya now claims that he will not leave under fire. The statement follows the November 1 Russian ORT TV’s Vremya program, which attacked Korotchenya and Russian deputy prime minister Valery Serov for alleged conflict of interest. Serov is chairman of the board, and Korotchenya vice-chairman, of the Russian Agency for Integration and Development (RAID), a public corporation founded by a decree of President Boris Yeltsin in May 1996 to promote joint ventures between Russian enterprises and enterprises in CIS member countries.

According to Korotchenya, attacks on him and Serov (who supervises CIS affairs in the Russian government) reflect the attempt of certain Russian "clans to redivide spheres of influence in the CIS" and to "make windfall profits from those countries’ hardships." RAID is "a bone in the throat of those powerful clans" because it promotes a "state-managed approach" to cooperation. Threatening to "name names," Korotchenya charged that those same "enemies of integration are also intriguing against Russia-Belarus friendship" by using their control of mass media to attack Belarusan president Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Korotchenya remarked that he himself is a Belarusan under fire just like Lukashenka, and for similar reasons. (Russian agencies, November 3)

RAID appears to represent merely a pretext in this conflict since — as Korotchenya himself admitted — "it does not really function." Yesterday, Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin’s spokesman, Igor Shabdurasulov, firmly defended Serov and RAID against ORT’s charges. (Itar-Tass, November 4)

Some of Korotchenya’s remarks echo Lukashenka’s and can be read as targeting Russian government circles around Deputy Prime Ministers Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov. These circles promote privatization of selected enterprises in Belarus and other CIS countries by Russian capital, as opposed to the state intervention favored by Serov, CIS central bodies, Korotchenya, and Lukashenka. Korotchenya is clearly also targeting Russian Security Council deputy secretary Boris Berezovsky, who strongly influences ORT TV and is seen by official Minsk as a mastermind of Russian media criticism of Lukashenka. As CIS executive secretary, Korotchenya (Belarusan spelling: Karatchenya) has compiled a record of strict subservience to the Kremlin. He sided with Moscow during the recent scandal over the detention of ORT journalists in Belarus; but threatened with loss of his CIS post, he now appears to be counting on Lukashenka for succor and is spilling beans in the process.

Latvia Also Declines Russian Offer of Security Pact.