Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 102

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Leonid Drachevsky held talks with the Moldovan leaders in Chisinau on May 24 and returned to Moscow yesterday as CIS Affairs minister. Appointed yesterday by President Boris Yeltsin to serve in this capacity in the reshuffled Russian cabinet, Drachevsky is one of the few senior Russian diplomats not burdened by a background in Soviet diplomacy. Born in 1942 and trained as a chemical engineer, Drachevsky joined Russia’s Foreign Ministry in 1992 and rose to become ambassador to Poland and then deputy foreign minister responsible for relations with CIS countries–his latest post before yesterday’s promotion.

Drachevsky is Russia’s fourth minister for CIS Affairs in the space of four years and replaces veteran Soviet diplomat Boris Pastukhov in that post. Pastukhov was also designated yesterday for–though not yet appointed to–the post of presidential representative for relations with CIS countries (Itar-Tass, May 25).

The presidential representative’s post was created in April 1998–simultaneously with the appointment of Boris Berezovsky as CIS executive secretary–and was awarded as a sinecure to Ivan Rybkin, a political vassal of Yeltsin and ally of Berezovsky. The post turned out to be devoid of any practical significance, and Rybkin was hardly ever heard from in that capacity. Pastukhov’s transfer to that post–should he accept it–would seem to presage his marginalization and retirement for reasons of age. Pastukhov’s loss of influence will be welcomed in the independent post-Soviet countries, whose interests he had skillfully undermined in his capacity as first deputy foreign minister responsible for handling–and manipulating–regional conflicts in CIS countries until 1998. His present eclipse is not traceable to any shift in the Kremlin’s policy, but to Pastukhov’s alliance with Yevgeny Primakov during the latter’s successive tenures as foreign minister and prime minister in the power struggles against Berezovsky.

Belarusan President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has reason to regret yesterday’s promotion of reformer Mikhail Zadornov as first deputy prime minister of Russia for macroeconomic policy supervising the economic ministries. An opponent of direct or indirect economic subsidies to Belarus, Zadornov has often managed to thwart Lukashenka’s efforts to obtain such subsidies from more sympathetic Russian government officials. Zadornov is affiliated with Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko, one of the few Russian parties critical of Lukashenka. On a visit to Minsk last week as acting finance minister, Zadornov turned down an entire list of demands for economic concessions which Lukashenka sought at Russia’s expense (Itar-Tass, Belapan, May 20-21). Many Russian officials, however, are prepared to pay the economic price for Lukashenka’s allegiance to the Russia-Belarus Union–a situation which will offer Lukashenka some room for maneuvering in Moscow against Zadornov. The actual delimitation of responsibilities among Drachevsky, Zadornov, the marginalized Pastukhov and the new CIS Executive Secretary Yuri Yarov–who was appointed last month as Berezovsky’s successor–is a question yet to be settled.