Viktor Ilyukhin, the communist chairman of the Russian Duma’s Security Committee, finds that the new Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov shares the communists’ basic views on Russian-Ukrainian relations. Those views boil down to seeking “grand friendship” in the form of “Slavic unity” and creation of a “new association” of states, albeit short of restoring the USSR (UNIAN, September 15). Ilyukhin is one of the Duma’s foremost foreign policy hardliners, often to the left of the official Communist position.
Duma deputy Konstantin Borovoy, a virtually isolated democrat in the Duma, similarly expects Primakov to “try to bring Ukraine closer to Russia’s strategic interests.” Borovoy predicts that Primakov will seek to isolate Ukraine from NATO and the European Union in order to undermine Ukraine’s independence. According to Borovoy, such a course would reflect Primakov’s own “anti-American, anti-NATO, pro-imperial positions” (UNIAN, September 15).
The two forecasts, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, are remarkably similar in their substance, even as one approves while the other disapproves of Primakov’s inclinations. The upcoming meeting of Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma may still reflect the détente the two presidents have achieved since 1997. However, all bets will be off after the summit. Yeltsin’s enfeeblement and the Communists’ recent gains in Moscow and in Kyiv can indeed destabilize Russian-Ukrainian relations.–VS
UKRAINIAN SCIENTISTS PICKET PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION, PARLIAMENT.