European leaders offered their support for Russia’s admission to the Council of Europe over this weekend, despite a steady stream of criticism of Moscow’s brutal response to the Dagestan hostage crisis. Although council secretary-general Daniel Tarschys said January 19 in Strasbourg that he had expressed "strong concern about the situation in Chechnya" to Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov during a visit to Moscow, Council officials indicated they would not seek to block Russia’s bid for membership. (6) German policymakers appeared especially torn by the decision. German defense minister Volker Ruehe called on Moscow January 20 to observe international norms, accusing Russia of "seeking greatness outwardly by swaggering around." (7) Yet a day later, German foreign minister Klaus Kinkel, who has made some of the strongest public statements to date condemning Russian actions in Chechnya, declared Russia had made significant strides toward democracy and should be rewarded with admission to the Council. (8) Kinkel is to travel to Moscow January 27 to meet with his Russian counterpart.
Meanwhile, a Russian parliamentary delegation left Moscow January 21 to attend the January 25 Council session in Strasbourg that will vote on Russia’s admission. The delegation is headed by Vladimir Lukin and includes Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov as well as Liberal Democratic party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Zyuganov described Russia as "an integral part of the European community…[which] should be within that community despite the economic difficulties" it now faces. (9)
Chubais Threatened with Possible Criminal Probe.