At a news conference that followed the March 28 CIS summit, Belarusan president Aleksandr Lukashenko distanced himself from those "post-Soviet countries that conduct a negative policy toward Russia. The Russian leadership and mass media are criticizing, attacking those countries; that is natural. We promote a different policy, the most friendly policy toward Russia." (RTR, March 30) Yeltsin and Lukashenko are preparing to sign, on April 2, a union treaty which may spell the end of Belarusan sovereignty and whose draft was circulating in Moscow even as the CIS summit convened. Nevertheless, only the Kazakstani and Uzbek presidents mentioned the prospective absorption de facto of a CIS member country by Russia. The majority’s silence seemed to reflect the stake of individual member countries in maintaining functional relations with Russia, Moscow’s residual but still substantial leverage over CIS countries, and the absolute primacy of bilateral relations within the CIS.
Ukrainian Leaders Elated by Bilateral Meeting with Yeltsin.