Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 113

President Boris Yeltsin yesterday signed two new treaties on the part of the Russian Federation with Russian regions. One was with Tver oblast, the other with the city and oblast of St. Petersburg. (Interfax, June 13) This unorthodox system of bilateral treaties between the federal center and the individual regions was pioneered by Tatarstan in 1994 and has since been credited with keeping the Russian Federation together. Yeltsin’s burst of campaign activity has been accompanied by a surge in the number of treaties signed by the center not only with Russia’s ethnically-based republics but also with its ethnically- neutral krais and oblasts.

At yesterday’s signing ceremony with Tver oblast, Yeltsin praised the treaty system but acknowledged that there is a growing chorus of opposition. This backlash has several sources. One is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which objects to the way some Russian republics and regions go it alone and sign treaties with regions outside Russia — something that should not happen under international law. (Foreign Ministry officials claim that the Republic of Kalmykia sent an envoy to Paris to announce Kalmykia’s desire to open an embassy in France.) Other opponents range from the writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to the politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky to constitutional lawyers who warn that Russia is ceasing to be a constitution-based state and becoming a treaty-based (and therefore less stable) one. Most recently, a number of influential regional governors, including Yevgeny Nazdratenko of the Maritime krai, have expressed their opposition. The governors seem to be against the idea because they suspect that, if their regions sign agreements with the center, their prerogatives may be more closely codified and they will find themselves with less room for maneuver.

Rising Russian Arms Exports.