Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 16

While Russia’s Foreign Ministry is still "preparing an official reaction" to Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s recent appearance and statements in Sevastopol (see Monitor, January 20), presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told a Kremlin briefing that Luzhkov’s actions reflect his personal position and "should not be confused with the Russian president’s position." Russia is one of the guarantors of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Yastrzhembsky recalled. (Interfax, January 20-21)

Nonetheless, Yeltsin’s appointees in the Federation Council recently voted almost unanimously in favor of that chamber’s resolution demanding Sevastopol for Russia, as did deputies of the pro-government "Russia is Our Home" faction in the Duma. Moreover, one of Russia’s leading liberal reformers, Nizhny Novgorod governor Boris Nemtsov, has added his voice to Luzhkov’s by stating that Sevastopol is "a Russian city acquired with Russian blood." Nemtsov called for "Russian economic expansion in Crimea, beginning with Sevastopol." He urged Russian banks to buy up shops and factories there and to "turn Sevastopol into a Russian city de facto." Subsequently, Russian "economic expansion should extend to Ukraine and Belarus…then the integration and unification of former Soviet republics would become inevitable," Nemtsov said.

At the opposite end of the political spectrum, Georgi Tikhonov, chairman of the ultranationalist-proCommunist Narodovlastie group in the Duma and of its CIS Affairs Committee, stated that he "regards Luzhkov as his political adversary but fully approves of what he had to say on his visit to Crimea." The Zhirinovsky party’s Aleksei Mitrofanov, chairman of the Duma’s Geopolitics Committee, voiced a similar sentiment, stating that "Luzhkov behaves very correctly, he is increasingly resembling Zhirinovsky." (Itar-Tass, Interfax, NTV, January 20-21)

Russian Troops "Cut Off" by Georgian Suspension of Flight Services.