Russian President Boris Yeltsin finally found it possible on October 23 to receive Boris Pastukhov for the first time since appointing him on September 25 as minister for cooperation with the CIS countries (see the Monitor, September 28). Referring to the ministry’s poor performance over the years, Yeltsin instructed Pastukhov that “the ministry must get to know our [CIS] partners more profoundly. Insufficient knowledge of them makes it difficult to work with them.”
Yeltsin directed Pastukhov to focus on negotiating ten-year economic cooperation agreements between Russia and individual CIS countries across the board, on the model of Russia’s agreements with Ukraine and, more recently, with Kazakhstan (Itar-Tass, October 23).
Ukraine, however, has repeatedly complained that its economic agreements with Russia do not work. Russia’s crisis, moreover, spurs CIS countries to reorient their economic relations away from the former metropolis. The focus on ten-year economic agreements promises to re-consign the CIS Cooperation Ministry to its customary irrelevance. It was this irrelevance which led Yeltsin to abolish the ministry by decree last May. Its resurrection, attributable to the new prime minister Yevgeny Primakov, may yet lead to a more coherent use of economic instruments for restoring a measure of Russian influence in CIS countries.
PRO-KUCHMA PARTY CHIEF TAKES DISTANCE FROM PRESIDENT’S TACTICS.