Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 113

According to Armenian parliament vice-chairman Ara Sahakian, Yerevan "does not rule out its eventual accession to the Russia-Belarus Union" as a means for Armenia to "draw closer to Russia and strengthen the Russian-Armenian alliance." Speaking during the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly session which ended yesterday in St.-Petersburg, Sahakian conceded that the idea originated with a small unofficial Armenian group, but described it as popular and worth careful consideration. Last week, Communist leader Sergei Badalian claimed that an Armenian referendum would produce a heavy majority in favor of joining the Russia-Belarus Union. Other observers dismiss that claim. (Interfax, June 6, 8)

The idea was in fact launched as the "Armenian popular initiative" at a Yerevan congress last month by intellectuals and leading figures from the national movement of the late 1980s such as Silva Kaputikian, Zori Balaian, and Igor Muradian. An ethnic Armenian deputy to the Russian Duma, Telman Gdlian, addressed the congress on behalf of what he described as influential Russian groups interested in enlarging the Russia-Belarus union. The Duma then endorsed the initiative in a nearly unanimous resolution. The Armenian Communist Party strongly supports the initiative, but the Armenian government and the nationalist opposition have both clearly distanced themselves from the effort.

U.S. Military Delegation Prepares Major Joint Exercise.