Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 214

Russian sources over the past two days appear at last to have clarified who will lead the Russian delegation to this week’s Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul. On November 15 the Kremlin announced that President Boris Yeltsin would indeed arrive in Turkey today at the head of the Russian delegation. There had been speculation well into this week that Yeltsin might choose to forego the trip to Istanbul, either for health reasons or because he preferred not to face Western criticism over Russia’s crackdown in Chechnya that is expected to dominate the two-day event. Yeltsin has made clear in recent days, however, that he is ready to rebuff the condemnations of Western leaders. The Russian president, who is to be accompanied to Istanbul by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, is scheduled to address the OSCE summit tomorrow, shortly after its official opening. He will then hold talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Confusion over whether Prime Minister Vladimir Putin would travel to Istanbul–either as Yeltsin’s stand-in, or perhaps in the capacity of an aide to the Russian president–persisted into yesterday. Indeed, on November 12 Putin’s press secretary told reporters that the prime minister was preparing for the summit, an announcement that followed reports of planned meetings between Putin and other world leaders attending the event. Only two days ago, however, Putin himself told reporters that it was still not decided whether he would travel to Turkey. Yesterday, however, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin indicated that Putin will not be a part of the Russian delegation (Itar-Tass, November 12, 15; AP, November 16).