INNER CIRCLE IS NO LONGER CIRCLE OF PALS

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CONSIDERING ITS PARTNERS’ UNRELIABILITY, MOSCOW SHOULD REVISE OPTIONS WITH REGARD TO CIS COUNTRIES

Russia had better stop treating CIS countries as faithful allies. It costs Moscow too much and the returns are infinitesimal.


Regardless of the distinct changes in CIS countries’ disposition and bearing points, Moscow keeps calling the Commonwealth the first priority of the Russian foreign policy. (President Dmitry Medvedev’s interview last Sunday was but the latest confirmation.) In the meantime, it is perfectly safe to assume that nobody anywhere in the upper echelons of state power is able to explain exactly what it is supposed to mean. Moscow’s alleged partners throughout the Commonwealth stopped paying attention to the national interests of Russia long ago. What they learned instead was counting Russian taxpayers’ money generously poured into the countries of the so called inner circle in the form of relief aid and grants. The elections in Kyrgyzstan not long ago and in Moldova later today are a vivid example.

Moscow raised $2 billion for the Kyrgyzes in order to help them select the “correct” president. Incumbent President Kurmanbek Bakiyev did carry the day. The Americans meanwhile retained military presence in Kyrgyzstan even though the Kyrgyz authorities had solemnly swore to show them the door during the talks over the credit. The American military base is still in Kyrgyzstan, right near the capital city of Bishkek, albeit under a different name.

Moldova will be electing its parliament today. Moscow observed the tradition and promised this partner $0.5 billion worth of a loan with no hope of seeing its money ever again as everyone in Moldova has known all along. The Kremlin apparently views it as a smart investment: in the country where ratings of Russian leaders Medvedev and Putin are twice that of the national leader, Russian aid to President Vladimir Voronin means additional votes cast for the ruling Communist Party headed by him. The use the Russian loan will be put to is already known. Moldovan Prime Minister Zinaida Grechanaya told voters the other day that nothing collected from the Moldovan taxpayers would be spent on repairs of the buildings of the republican parliament and presidential residence damaged during the riots a short while ago. According to Grechanaya, official Kishinev had loans from Russia and China for that (China had loaned Moldova $1 billion – also to help the Moldovan Communist Party to come in first).

This allegedly “smart” maneuver of the Russian diplomacy might be chalked off as a blooper (even that, however, requires a certain stretch of imagination) but some other actions on its part defy both common sense and apparent logic. When riots began in Kishinev two days after the parliamentary election on April 5, Voronin pinned the blame on the government and secret services of nearby Romania. The Russian Embassy in Kishinev reported then that riots were engineered by gunmen who had hoisted Romanian flags on the building of the parliament of Moldova. The Russian Foreign Ministry appealed to the European Union to have a talk with its member, Romania. In short, the scandal that followed was really something. Last week, however, Moldovan voters were advised by the national Prosecutor General’s Office that the Romanian leadership had never had anything to do with the mass disturbances in Kishinev. This announcement left Russia all alone with its demands and accusations of Bucharest.

Moldovan Deputy Premier Yuri Roshka in the meantime pinned all the blame for the April 7 riots on Moscow. He said the Kremlin had initiated the disturbances in the hope to exterminate Voronin. How nice of him.

Who are the people that update the Russian leadership on the situation in foreign countries and offer counsel? After all, it is Russian taxpayers who pay their salaries.

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