Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 70

Izvestia claims to have discovered the real reason why President Yeltsin last week sacked his foreign policy adviser, Dmitry Ryurikov, and shelved the version of the treaty documents with Belarus that Ryurikov had drafted for a shorter version. (Izvestia, April 8) Initial speculation held that Ryurikov angered Yeltsin by jumping the gun and telling the media two days before the event that Yeltsin had approved the documents. In reality, Izvestia claims, Yeltsin realized at the last moment that the charter drafted by Ryurikov, which Yeltsin and Belarusan president Aleksandr Lukashenko initialed on April 2 and which specifies how the union will be implemented, contained a clause that would have given Lukashenko the opportunity to become the head of the Russian-Belarusan Union and thereby threaten Yeltsin’s authority.

Izvestia says the original draft alarmed the reformist wing of the Russian government by requiring Russian taxpayers "immediately to shoulder Belarus’ economic problems in exchange for strategic benefits at some future date." But what angered Yeltsin was the draft’s statement that the chairman of the Russian-Belarusan Supreme Council would be elected for two years on a rotating basis. That meant Lukashenko could become Union chairman in two years’ time. In addition, the draft charter called for the establishment of a Union executive committee with the power to make rulings mandatory on the governments of both states. In other words, Russia would lose its sovereignty. As soon as Yeltsin understood what he was being asked to sign, Izvestia says, he ducked, invented a story about the need for a "nationwide discussion," and sacked Ryurikov. Yeltsin will forgive his aides anything, Izvestia concludes, "except moves that endanger his own power."

Tatarstan Press Denounces Belarus-Russia Union.