Izvestia, May 7, 1999, p.1

Boris Yeltsin has met with Vyacheslav Lebedev, Chairman of the Russian Supreme Court. According to the official version, the president has shown “his complete support for the courts in all areas”, and proposed that Lebedev should retain his position. The term of the current Chairman expires in July 1999, and the president has not much time left to submit a candidate for this important governmental post to the Federation Council. However, even less time is left before the debate on impeachment starts, in which the Supreme Court will play a leading role in accordance with the Constitution. The SC must determine if the accusations against the president are legally sound, and therefore the interest of the president in the Supreme Court is rather understandable.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, May 7, 1999, p.2

Leading public figures were asked about the possibility of dismissing Yevgeny Primakov and about his possible successor.

Leader of the LDPR Vladimir Zhirinovsky said, “Primakov’s dismissal is rather likely at the moment. The country is experiencing a new swirl of political crisis, but Primakov is a strong premier. Therefore the president has a difficult task: to find a substitute for him. Possibly someone from the government or the Presidential Administration, who has recently received a high appointment, will assume this office.”

Duma deputy Alexei Podberezkin thinks: “Unfortunately, Primakov’s dismissal could turn out to be true. This is even not a new rumor, since it was predicted to happen before May 5. Judging by Yeltsin’s actions yesterday, he is possibly provoking Primakov into resigning. Things are more difficult with a substitute for Primakov. I see no such figure. This should be a person acceptable both for Yeltsin and the Duma. If such a person is found, the procedure of changing the premier will suspend the work of the government for three months, which appears a catastrophe under the current circumstances.”

Political scientist Georgy Satarov said: “Primakov’s government is enjoying the unprecedented confidence of people and the political elite in Moscow and the regions. This government has not committed any follies, and therefore a dismissal would be judged fairly negatively and may destabilize the political situation on the threshold of the elections… Speaking about the president, I would not rule out the possibility that Primakov’s dismissal could keep Yeltsin in office until his term is over.”


Izvestia, May 7, 1999, p.1

The G8 foreign ministers have met in Bonn. Negotiations between the leading western powers and Russia have been reduced to comparison of various ways for NATO to stop the Balkan War, which is all very well as far as it goes, although the discussions have revealed three positions on which no consent has been attained.

Firstly, NATO has a different order of priorities from Russia: first Yugoslavian Armed Forces and Police are withdrawn from Kosovo, then refugees start to come back, and only then air strikes will be stopped. Russia thinks that while guns are firing it is harder for diplomats to achieve consent, and it proposes announcing a “ceasefire” in the War, while NATO prefers to keep bombing.

Secondly, NATO sees the composition of the future peace-keeping contingent in Kosovo, which should provide for return of refugees, differently from Belgrade; Belgrade’s point of view was publicly announced by Victor Chernomyrdin. As the US president stated when in Europe, NATO was ready to accept the coalition principle of making up the peace-keeping contingent, which would include Russian soldiers as well, but only on the condition that it would be the NATO military who comprise the “core” of the international law-protectors on the Yugoslavian territory.

And finally, thirdly, the discrepancy between the role NATO assigned to Chernomyrdin’s “shuttle” diplomacy and Russia’s vision of its predestination in stopping the first European war after 1945, has been outlined in Bonn. The Clinton administration, as NBC reports, is counting on using Chernomyrdin’s channel for communicating with Milosevic. Kremlin’s special representative can be given the new American “framework project” for settling the crisis, which Chernomyrdin will “deliver to Belgrade within days”, states NBC.

An outrageous incapacity of the erstwhile most authoritative arbiter on the international scene has been revealed against the background of the Balkan War. The exposure of the UN’s incomplete conformity with duties has induced a number of politicians, including the left-oriented, to start speaking about a new structure of global security. Vice-Marshall of the Polish Seim, Marek Borovsky, has told me in the lobby of the parliamentary assembly of the European Council in Strasbourg that in the course of fifty years the UN has possibly become out-of-date, especially the right of veto held by the permanent members of the Security Council. According to Borovsky, in future decisions about “humanitarian intervention” could be implemented not by the Security Council but by the UN General Assembly, by the qualified majority, i.e. by three-quarters of its members. And Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has openly declared in Strasbourg that “we are standing on the edge of establishing a new security system.”

As in the years when the Reichstag fell and the UN was established, the after-war structure will depend on the place assigned to Russia in this “new security system” or on the place Russia will choose for itself. The Bonn meeting has confirmed that Russia, which was invited in advance to the privileged club of the rich and powerful, has been always standing by itself. The armed conflict in the Central Europe has alienated Russia from the G7 even more. However, in spite of the “peculiar opinion” of Russia, which has assessed NATO actions as aggression against Yugoslavia from the very beginning, currently the schedule of stopping the war is being determined in Moscow, too.

Not only lessons for the international community will flow from the NATO “humanitarian intervention” in Europe, but also the place for Russia in the post-war world will depend on the success or failure of our diplomacy.


Trud, May 7, 1999, p.2

Q.: Igor Sergeevich, the West is currently debating the important role of Russia in settling the Balkan crisis, but understands primarily the possibility to inform Belgrade about the NATO ultimatum “directly”. At the same time, NATO has not advised Russia when unleashing the war against Yugoslavia…

A.: While the scale of the Balkan tragedy, which was provoked by NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, is expanding, it is becoming more and more evident that if this madness is not stopped immediately there will be the gravest consequences for the future of the international stability and security. The West is beginning to perceive it too, including NATO members. However the events have come so far that it is extremely difficult to find a way out of this crisis.

In such conditions, it is no accident that the West has started speaking about the role of Russia in searching for a peace settlement in the Balkan crisis. Here our historic roots, which link our country with this strategically important region, are not the only thing that matters.

The current, to some extent unique, position of Russia is defined primarily by the position our country occupied when air strikes started. What is the essence of this position approved by Russian President Boris Yeltsin? We strictly condemned NATO aggression and started taking active political and diplomatic steps to stop it. At the same time, having entirely broken off any relations with the Alliance, we retained all channels of communication with NATO member states. We strictly protected the role of the UN, which has special powers in questions of maintaining peace and stability. And finally, we fully retained our relations with Belgrade, although we do not share its position on settling the situation in Kosovo entirely.

The uniqueness of the Russia’s position thus is not that it can inform Belgrade about NATO ultimatums without any intermediaries (we have never dealt with it and are not going to) but that our country can carry on a dialog with all sides of the conflict: Yugoslavia, NATO, and the UN. Russia should take full advantage of this role to establish peace on the Balkans and currently all our efforts are aimed at it.

Q.: How will the international presence in Kosovo take shape if Russia participates in it?

A.: The format and tasks of the international presence are yet to be agreed on. Currently this is one of the most complicated questions, in which we have differences with the US and its allies, which stand for expanding the NATO military presence in the region. We assume that any operation on assisting the fulfillment of the possible political agreement about the basics of autonomy in Kosovo can be started only after complying with Belgrade, which is flatly opposing to NATO military representation on its territory.

Russia maintains that the UN, which possesses a wide mechanism of keeping peace and the appropriate experience, can and should play an important role in settling the crisis. I am sure that within the framework of the UN they can find a decision, which would provide retaining of the Yugoslavian sovereignty and territorial integrity alongside with solving the Kosovo problem.

As for participation of Russian Forces in the Kosovo peace-keeping operation, many factors will depend on the extent to which this participation will promote restoration of peace in Yugoslavia and settling the situation in the region. Whose colors the operation is carried out under is also of principal importance for Russia. Thus the decision about participation of Russia in the operation will be made considering all these circumstances.

Q.: Has Russia made use of all its means of political influence on the US and NATO?

A.: Russia has held a strict and logical position about the inadmissibility of using force against a sovereign state, by-passing the UN Security Council. Washington and other NATO members are well aware of this position, since we have more than once announced it on all levels.

I can fully assert that NATO had no grounds for unleashing aggression against Yugoslavia. The NATO governing body, when it was making this decision (pressured by Washington) proceeded not from interests of protecting rights of the Albanian population in Kosovo. If NATO were really concerned about destiny of Albanians and other peoples residing in the region, it would undoubtedly promote resuming negotiations despite all difficulties and here the Alliance would have Russia as a reliable partner.

Currently, especially after the Washington NATO summit, it is beyond any doubt that the Alliance had various far-reaching purposes. In bombing Yugoslavia, NATO was striving to destroy the current order, which was based on respect for international rights and the UN Charter, and establish its complete domination in the 21st century.


ORT, Novosti, May 6, 1999, 12:00

On May, 6 Boris Yeltsin held a meeting with Victor Chernomyrdin, special representative of the president in the Balkans. At this meeting Chernomyrdin informed the president about the results of his visit to the US, where he discussed the issues of settling the crisis in the Balkans at the highest level. Before the beginning of the meeting the president stated that Chernomyrdin coped with the task given him.

After the end of the meeting Chernomyrdin stressed once more that the most important task was to stop the bombing in Yugoslavia, preserve the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, and return the refugees. According to Chernomyrdin, a large letter of agreement was prepared as a result of the negotiations with Milosevic. He is ready to reduce the amount of his forces in Kosovo.


Independent Television, Segodnya, May 6, 1999, 14:00

Different assumptions of journalists about the possible personnel reshuffles in the government appeared after the appointment of Stepashin to the post of First Deputy Premier.

Oleg Sysuev, first deputy secretary of the presidential administration, gave an interview to Independent Television where he stated that “there are no irreplaceable premiers, and it concerns Primakov, first of all. The president has a list of names who can replace any person if necessary, including Primakov as well.” According to the sources from the presidential administration, such statements are considered in the Kremlin as quite ordinary and they must not be given much attention.

But the attitude of Russian politicians was diverse. Gennady Zyuganov, for example reacted with the following words: “The administration must concentrate its attention on the crisis in the Balkans, it must bring the economy out of the crisis and strengthen our friendly relations with Belarus. But unfortunately are occupied with old intrigues, and it does not allow us to work effectively. And the collapse of the government will mean a complete failure of the economy”.


Russian Television, Vesti, May 6, 1999, 20:00

Almost a month ago Russia came up with a proposal to hold a meeting of Interior Ministers of the G8 countires devoted to settling the Yugoslavian crisis. This has now been done. And it was the first time a concrete plan of peaceful settlement was discussed at such a high level. Not much is known about the plan. It is based on seven principles of peace, including the establishment of temporary administration, disarmament of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the withdrawal of Serbian policemen from Kosovo, and bringing in international civil forces and security forces.

Joschke Fischer, Interior Minister of Germany, stated at the end of the press conference that the chiefs of the diplomatic offices approve the declaration which contained the seven principles of peaceful settlement of the conflict in Kosovo. Now an expanded resolution of the UN should be worked out on the basis of these theses. Political directors of interior offices of the G8 will start work on this document in the near future. Representatives of the G8 will inform the government of China about the decisions which Igor Ivanov, Foreign Minister of Russia, considers as a very important step forward. He stated that the fact of working out these principles means that those who supported them can clearly understand that the crisis can be settled only politically. Russia will actively carry on with efforts to find ways of settling the conflict according to the line approved by the president. The situation has gone too far, and it will require years to remove the consequences of this tragedy.

The good intentions worked out during the meeting of the G8 may remain on paper. But the West confirmed that a key role in negotiations with Belgrade belongs to Russia.

Victor Chernomyrdin learned about the results of the meeting from a telephone call of Igor Ivanov. It is possible that on May 6 they will meet personally. Meanwhile, Victor Chernomyrdin met Abel Matutis, Foreign Minister of Spain, who visited Moscow. Matutis stressed that the positions of Russia and Spain are different, but with the help of Chernomyrdin some progress has been achieved. Now it is the turn of Milosevic, who must agree with the principles of the international community.

Europe seems to be looking forward to stopping the air strikes. And the flow of refugees remains a headache for the whole international community.