Russian president Boris Yeltsin has sent U.S. president Bill Clinton a message denouncing Estonia and Latvia for allegedly claiming Russian territories, restricting the use of the Russian language, depriving the "Russian-speaking population" of citizenship, "persecuting the Russian Orthodox church," and other "mass-scale, gross violations of human rights." Yeltsin claimed that the two Baltic states ignore "international experts’" recommendations to change their national legislation. At the same time, he also complained that "certain countries support directly or indirectly the violation of the Russian-speaking population’s rights."
Yeltsin warned Clinton that "the Baltic states’ admission to NATO is absolutely unacceptable. Any steps in that direction would directly challenge Russia’s national security interests and undermine European stability and security." Yeltsin asked Clinton to explain that to the Baltic states. Dispatched last week, Yeltsin’s message was highlighted by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin at a briefing yesterday. The ministry last week issued a similar indictment of its own. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, July 2)
International organizations have in fact consistently exonerated the Baltic states of the charges which Yeltsin levels against them. The document illustrates Moscow’s misuse of human rights issues for geopolitical purposes. Yeltsin’s message was timed to coincide with last week’s visit to the U.S. by the three Baltic presidents, a visit which focused on Baltic security and accession to NATO. By creating an artificial atmosphere of conflict in Russian-Baltic relations, Moscow hopes to weaken the Balts’ prospects of gaining admission to NATO.
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