The presidents of all twelve member countries of the CIS met in Moscow on November 30 to mark the organization’s tenth anniversary. Even Turkmen President Saparmurat Niazov, a habitual boycotter of CIS summits, attended this one. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, who had stayed away from the last summit as a protest against Russian military pressures on his country, attended this time, notwithstanding the fact that those pressures have intensified lately (see the Monitor, November 29-30).
The summit made no decisions and issued only two documents: one, a modest appraisal of the CIS at ten; the other, a perfunctory if predictable pledge to combat international terrorism and to contribute to the resolution of the Afghan problem.
Russian President Vladimir Putin singled out Presidents Vladimir Voronin of Moldova, Alyaksandr Lukashenka of Belarus and Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine for favors. Putin awarded to Voronin the honor of hosting the next summit, to be held in Chisinau next May. Uniquely among the CIS countries’ presidents, Voronin is an active Communist, and he combines the post of head of state with that of Party chief in accordance with a Soviet model. Moldova was not in line to host a CIS summit. It had hosted one in 1998, while other member countries have never hosted a CIS summit yet. Putin apparently expects Moldova’s authorities, particularly the overwhelmingly Communist parliament, to guarantee an enthusiastic atmosphere for that summit. According to one Russian commentator on the Moscow summit, “Voronin’s voice is being heard loudly, out of proportion to Moldova’s weight and significance within the CIS. Today it is said that Voronin ranks second only to [Ukrainian President] Leonid Kuchma among the friends of the Chairman of the Council of Heads of State [Putin]” (Ekho Moskvy, November 30; Interfax, November 30, December 1; Flux, Basapress, November 30, December 1).
CONCESSION TIME FOR KUCHMA.