Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 229

Yesterday’s sixth anniversary of the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States passed with minimal official notice in Moscow and virtually none in the capitals of the other 11 member countries. Ukraine’s former president Leonid Kravchuk — who on December 8, 1991, joined with Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Belarusan head of state Stanislau Shushkevich to found the CIS — remarked yesterday that the organization has gradually been emptied of any strength and had been "turned into a shell. Its decisions mean nothing. This organization has no prospects." (Ukrainian agencies, December 8) Kravchuk himself contributed significantly to this course of events — as did his rival, incumbent Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma — by treating the CIS as a means toward a "civilized divorce" from Moscow.

Nevertheless, in the Russian capital yesterday, CIS executive secretary Ivan Karatchenya (a Belarusan and a Moscow loyalist) expressed hope that Ukraine would join the Russia-Belarus Union. Apparently drawing on pre-Soviet Russia’s pan-Slavic ideology, Karatchenya mused that Ukraine’s accession "would result in the formation of that genuine Slavic Union, which used to be so much talked about in the past in our countries, and which currently so frightens certain Western politicians." (Russian agencies, December 8)

Russian CIS cooperation minister Anatoly Adamishin’s anniversary comment was that "integration between these states does not exist, because the decisions have no binding force. There are no supranational bodies, and progress is impossible in their absence." But unlike Karatchenya, Adamishin took the position that the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan customs union could potentially serve as the unifying core–"if these four states were to find a common language." In that case, "it would be easier to organize around such a core than around Russia." (Russian TV, December 5)

Recommending yet another approach, Russian Federation Council chairman Yegor Stroyev called for deferring "integration" efforts until Russia was ripe to serve itself as the core. "After our country will have strengthened its economy and stability, and only in that perspective, Russia will be able to speak of its dominating role as unifier." Stroyev was addressing an otherwise low-key anniversary session of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, whose Council he chairs. (Russian agencies, December 7)

The three prescriptions for curing the CIS differ in that one of them takes a pan-Slavist approach, the second an Eurasian one, and the third a purely Russian national one. But they possess a common denominator in that they all regard Russia as the real center of any CIS "integration," and envisage such integration ultimately as an accretion to Russia’s power.

Tallinn, Riga Classified as Historic and Cultural Treasures.