Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 123

On October 26 Konstantin Zatulin, chairman of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs and Compatriot Relations, again ripped Russian officials for their "indifferent attitude toward the violation of [ethnic Russian] rights in the near abroad". (10) In this instance, Zatulin was set off by the Ukrainian authorities having broken up Crimea’s "Ros" Society, a combative Russian group, for allegedly inciting interethnic conflict. "Ros" has complained loudly and bitterly to the Duma about its fate. In early October, the Duma released a statement saying that Ukrainian treatment of Sevastopol’s Russians could affect the ratification of bilateral agreements on the disputed Black Sea Fleet. Zatulin’s latest remarks demonstrate that the "ethnic card" remains in play. As another example of indifference toward compatriots, he cited the Federation Council’s decision last week to overturn a parliamentary bill halting unilateral reductions to the Fleet.

Russia’s real stake in the issue was summed up best earlier this year, when the same Zatulin dubbed the Black Sea Fleet a "fig leaf" masking the more essential question: will Ukraine be with Russia or not? (11) Pressed to explain why Kiev remains opposed to political and military union with Moscow, the Duma committee chairman speculated that US president Clinton had puffed up Leonid Kuchma’s sense of duty to stand firm against renewed Russian imperialism.

Transdniester Leader Reaffirms Allegiance to Russia.