Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 132

Despite his warning about the undesirability of a confrontation with the West–or perhaps because of it–President Boris Yeltsin also chose yesterday to single out for praise the man who commanded the June 12 march of Russian paratroopers to the Slatina airport in Pristina. During the hand-shaking which opened the Kremlin ceremony, Yeltsin reportedly offered warm thanks to General Viktor Zavarzin for his Kosovo exploits. He also suggested that Zavarzin could expect a state award for his heroics on that mission (Itar-Tass, July 8). Yeltsin’s performance yesterday paralleled that which occurred in the immediate aftermath of the June 12 march into Kosovo, an operation which many believe took place without Yeltsin’s direct authorization. On that occasion Yeltsin promoted Zavarzin to the rank of colonel general.

Zavarzin, it might be noted, was in Moscow after having given up command of Moscow’s Kosovo contingent to Major General Valery Yevtukhovich on July 6. In an interesting but still unsubstantiated sidebar to this story, the Boston Globe reported on July 3 that NATO supreme commander General Wesley Clark earlier this year had rejected Moscow’s nomination of then Lieutenant General Viktor Zavarzin to a key liaison post at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The reason, according to the Globe, was that NATO believed Zavarzin to be an intelligence officer and feared that he would pass on NATO military plans to Serbian commanders (Boston Globe, July 3).