Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 45

The Russian parliament is scheduled to hold a second round of closed hearings tomorrow on ratification of the START II Treaty. Following the first round of hearings, on February 19, deputies complained that they still lacked the necessary information to make an informed decision. A special commission to deal with the ratification issue has been created in the Duma by the committees on international affairs, defense, security, and geopolitics. The commission is headed by Vladimir Lukin, head of the International Affairs Committee. The heads of the other three committees serve as deputy chairmen. (13) The commission hopes to finish its work by the first week of April, and then to submit its findings to the chamber.

The chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, Lt. Gen. Lev Rokhlin, suggested that he at least would encourage deputies to link ratification to a broader series of security developments in the West. The commander of Russian troops during the storming of Grozny early last year said deputies should consider the constraints imposed by the treaty in light of "NATO’s planned expansion, continuing U.S. efforts to create ABM systems, and the development of conventional offensive arms, including high-precision weapons by most western states." Meanwhile, a Russian daily suggested that a recent informal poll of Duma members (See Monitor, March 1) exaggerated opposition to ratification in Russia’s lower house. (14)

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