Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 61

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, who was interviewed yesterday along with Zhirinovsky, Zyuganov and Ryzhkov, characterized the rhetoric of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) as “hysteria” which was “heating up” the Balkan situation, and again condemned calls to send weapons and volunteers to support the Serbs. Yavlinsky condemned NATO, saying it had “violated all international norms” by attacking Serbia, but added that Serbia, far from being a “quiet, peaceful” country, was guilty of ethnic cleansing (NTV, March 28).

A similar note was struck by leaders of the center-right coalition Pravoe Delo (Just Cause). Former acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, former Finance Minister Boris Federov and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov left Hungary and arrived yesterday in Serbia on a mission aimed at ending the conflict. In Budapest they met with U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, and, after arriving in Belgrade, with Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic. Fellow Just Cause leader Anatoly Chubais, who heads United Energy Systems, Russia’s electricity grid, said in an interview yesterday that his three colleagues were planning to meet with Pope John Paul II and then to travel to the United States. He said that Just Cause “categorically condemns” NATO’s actions and supports humanitarian aid to Serbia, but opposes Russian military aid or volunteers to support Serbia, and demands an end to ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Chubais said that Russia’s communists are “dreaming” of Russia’s international isolation (NTV, March 28). Yegor Gaidar said yesterday that the NATO attack played into the hands of Russia’s communists (Russian agencies, March 27).

The state-run media in Serbia called the visiting Just Cause politicians “scum and trash” controlled by the United States (Reuters, March 29). For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that their peace mission had not been authorized by either Yeltsin or Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov’s cabinet. Ivanov said it was “strange” that Richard Holbrooke was “allegedly on private business in Budapest” simultaneously with the arrival of the Just Cause leaders (Russian agencies, March 29).

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, meanwhile, condemned “extremist remarks” concerning the possibility of sending arms and volunteers. Luzhkov has, like virtually all Russian politicians, also condemned the NATO actions, warning that they could lead to a third world war (Russian agencies, March 28-29). Russian news agencies reported today that Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov may soon travel to Yugoslavia.