Kremlin foreign policy coordinator Sergei Yastrzhembsky announced yesterday that First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov and CIS Executive Secretary Boris Berezovsky will jointly undertake a shuttle mediation between Tbilisi and Abkhazia shortly. Pastukhov and Berezovsky have agreed to henceforth “coordinate” their efforts, according to Yastrzhembsky. A meeting between President Boris Yeltsin and Berezovsky in the Kremlin yesterday produced that solution. (Itar-Tass, June 18)
The decision evidently aims to end or at least curb the strife that erupted in Moscow after Berezovsky was appointed to his CIS post and decided to involve himself in conflict resolution, starting with Abkhazia. Yesterday’s apparent compromise amounts to a setback for Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who has publicly insisted that conflict resolution is his ministry’s exclusive prerogative.
Pastukhov, responsible for CIS affairs including security and conflict resolution, personifies the policy of using Abkhazia as a lever to blackmail Georgia. Almost any mediator should be an improvement over Pastukhov. However, Berezovsky is poorly placed to introduce any real improvement. He has no government status and no apparatus, shifts among potentially conflicting interests, and is politically vulnerable in Russia.
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