Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Slavic Leaders Will Present Gorbachev with Plan for Future but New Slavic Commonwealth Is Unlikely to Include a Role for Soviet Leadership

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Slavic Leaders Will Present Gorbachev with Plan for Future but New Slavic Commonwealth Is Unlikely to Include a Role for Soviet Leadership

Article excerpt

THE Soviet Union and its once-powerful central institutions are on the verge of disappearing. In their place a "commonwealth" of states is emerging, with an alliance of the three Slavic republics of Russia, the Ukraine, and Byelorussia at its core.

The leaders of those states met for two days over the weekend in a dacha outside of the Byelorussian city of Brest to work out a formula for their future ties. Today the Slavic leaders will present what amounts to a fait accompli to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at a meeting in the Kremlin, also to be attended by the president of Kazakhstan. More than half of Kazakhstan is inhabited by people of Slavic origin.

These developments were precipitated by the 90 percent majority vote for independence Ukrainians cast in a referendum Dec. 1. That vote effectively ended the last hopes for a renewed political union among the 12 republics of the former Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Mr. Gorbachev renewed appeals for union last week, railing against "isolationists and separatists." He predicted war and economic chaos if those appeals are not met.

Gorbachev has been echoed by aides such as Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, as well as by St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoli Sobchak. They warn of an impending coup by military-led hard-liners, feeding off social tensions as the hard winter sets in. The coup rumors were further fed by the sudden dismissal over the weekend of Soviet Chief of the General Staff Vladimir Lobov, a move prompted, informed analysts say, by his increasingly open opposition to military reform.

While such ominous visions are not easily dismissed, many observers see such talk as the last attempts of a dying center to preserve its role. Some say the new commonwealth is likely to exclude any future for Gorbachev. Last week, the daily Izvestia accused the president of living in a "world of illusions" in resisting the new political realities.

"Everyone knows in their hearts that this union is already doomed," Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk said on arrival in the Byelorussian capital of Minsk.

"The republics have refused to voluntarily delegate to the center the powers which it has demanded of them," Russian President Boris Yeltsin told the Byelorussian parliament on Saturday. "Today we see the failure of the idea of a half-federation, half-confederation which would bind each state implicitly under a system of dual power."

In a clear warning to Gorbachev, Mr. Yeltsin added that "the main thing is not to demand the impossible from each other at this point. If we do otherwise, any treaty, however correct, may turn into just a piece of paper."

In the weekend talks, Yeltsin aimed to find common ground with the Ukraine, the second most wealthy and populous Soviet republic without whose participation, Yeltsin has said, any form of union is impossible. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.