As expected, Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s decision to sign the Russia-NATO Founding Act in Paris on May 27 has been both praised and criticized in Russia. The Communist daily Pravda-5 yesterday treated the accord with the kind of scorn evident in the comments of a number of Communist and nationalist leaders during the long negotiations that led up to the agreement’s signing. It called the Founding Act "rubbish in fancy packaging" and accused Yeltsin of signing an "act of unconditional surrender." The Duma’s "Anti-NATO" group described the agreement in much the same way. It called the signing a defeat for Russian diplomacy and urged new "political, economic, and military measures" to counter the threat of increased Western influence on Russian society.
The business-oriented Kommersant-daily saw the pact in a more positive light, however, suggesting that Yeltsin had made the best of a bad situation and arguing that the Russian President’s unanticipated offer to detarget Russian nuclear missiles aimed at NATO countries (see yesterday’s Monitor) had turned the Paris ceremony into a diplomatic victory for Russia. (Reuter, May 28) The speakers of Russia’s two houses of parliament, moreover, were measured in their assessments of the accord’s likely reception among legislators. Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroyev said during a visit to Sweden yesterday that the upper house would support the document. Duma speaker Gennady Seleznev was less categorical, but said that the Duma would approve the Founding Act if it can be demonstrated that it actually minimizes the threat posed to Russia by NATO’s enlargement. He did say that the signing of the document inspires optimism. Seleznev’s comments came during a visit to Denmark. (Itar-Tass, May 28)
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