Yabloko’s Vladimir Lukin, the liberal reformist chairman of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, endorsed sanctions against Latvia in a letter to the Duma’s Communist Chairman Gennady Seleznev. Lukin and his Committee "support diplomatic, political, and economic sanctions because of human rights violations in Latvia." However, imposing economic sanctions would now be "premature," because it would hamper Russia’s efforts to lift international economic sanctions on Yugoslavia, Iran, Iraq and Libya and to protect Belarus against possible sanctions. (Itar-Tass, March 31)
In his capacity as the Committee’s chairman and as defender of Belarusan President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in international forums, Lukin is aware of Western intentions to cease diplomatic recognition of Lukashenka next year. On the other hand, Lukin’s endorsement of sanctions against Latvia for alleged "human rights violations" underscores the fact that some leading reformers — as well as the Kremlin — sometimes outrun the nationalist-leftist camp in that regard. Moscow’s pro-reform Mayor Yuri Luzhkov last week also called for sanctions against Latvia. Seleznev and the hard-line Duma have lagged behind the Kremlin in the anti-Latvian campaign.
Communists Win in Crimea.