RUSSIA LAUNCHES CIS REFORMS

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Russia is going to base its reforms on CIS realities

Russia is going to change its policy in the former Soviet Union, but will also “patiently” explain to its CIS partners that “Moscow is not intending to restore the Soviet empire.” An unnamed senior Kremlin source said so to the RIA Novosti news agency.


Russia is going to change its policy in the former Soviet Union, but will also “patiently” explain to its CIS partners that “Moscow is not intending to restore the Soviet empire.” An unnamed senior Kremlin source said so to the RIA Novosti news agency. In his statement, the source summed up the conclusions that the Kremlin drew after the recent series of failures in the former Soviet Union. Moscow will try to implement the currently hypothetical new policy as soon as this week at the reform summit of CIS countries opening in Kazan. However, on August 23 the fate of real CIS reforms was hanging by a thread.

At the meeting of the foreign ministers of the CIS countries in Moscow Uzbekistan tried to persuade the partners to formulate a uniform concept of approach to the reform. Understanding that it was impossible to work out a uniform concept the Uzbek party thus actually wanted to prevent the summit in Kazan. Thus, Uzbekistan confirmed the pessimistic conclusions of the “source in the Kremlin.”

The agency quotes the disheartening conclusion of the interlocutor, “The essence of the new line of policy is not restoration of a kind of influence of Russia allegedly lost as a result of “orange revolutions.” There was no such influence and there was only wasted money and theft of Russian gas.” The source continued, “Now the goal is to make relations of Moscow with Washington and European structures in the territory of the former USSR acquire a civilized nature.” An evidently unrealistic task is set because the aforementioned geopolitical players do not need any new agreed relations or rules of the game.

The source evidently understands this too. He considers the intention declared by Georgia and Ukraine to organize a so-called commonwealth of democracies of the Baltic-Black Sea-Caspian region to be another attempt by the West to create a counterweight to Russia’s policy in the former Soviet Union. Judging by the harshness of the source’s words, this attempt makes the Kremlin speak about its new policy now. The name of the new commonwealth contains a claim for the Caspian region, that is for Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan being the countries where elections will be held in the near future.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced on August 23, after a four-hour meeting of the CIS council of foreign ministers in Moscow, “Russia will build relations with the CIS countries on the basis of international norms and law.” Lavrov added, “All CIS countries – these opinions sounded at the today’s meeting – think that we need relations in the framework of the CIS on this very basis.” According to Lavrov, “Decision with certain measures for reforming of the Commonwealth has been approved and recommended for passing at the council of the heads of the states in Kazan.” Lavrov also did not hide the difficulty with which this decision was achieved.

Uzbekistan unexpectedly helped Russia to move in this direction. Moscow actively and openly supported Uzbek authorities after the events in Andizhan. Nothing was said officially about the attempt of Uzbekistan to block approval of this document and about the fact that Uzbekistan signed the documents on the reform with a mark “special opinion.” Without offering of its own solution the Uzbek delegation insisted on creation of a kind of general concept of the CIS reform first. It was obvious that due to difference of approaches and expectations from the stagnating CIS in capitals of the CIS countries such concept could not appear in principle.

Lavrov says, “These reforms should be based on the realities.” Other CIS member states agreed with him. A source in a delegation of one of the Commonwealth member states cooperating with Washington well told Izvestia with irritation, “We are sick and tired of dead schemes.” In Kazan participants of the CIS summit will have to decide if any space is left in the former Soviet Union for viable reforms.

The Kremlin source expressed opinion of majority of Russians

A poll done by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) in late July showed that half of respondents are alarmed about the growing influence of the United States and the European Union in the former Soviet republics. According to the poll, 42% of respondents think that some former Soviet republics are acting unfriendly towards Russia and it is necessary to patiently and diplomatically reach agreements with them on settlement of the disputable issues. However, half of respondents say that Russia needs to put pressure on them, first of all, economically (to sell energy resources at the world market prices) or politically (to tighten visa requirements, to limit migration to Russia from these countries and so on up to termination of diplomatic relations).

Speaking about the CIS, presidents of majority of the CIS member states embody “unfriendly policy” towards Russia for the respondents. Respondents polled by experts of Public Opinion Foundation say that Russia rather lost than benefited from its participation in the CIS (31% of respondents against 20%). Almost a half of respondents could not give any answer.

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