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Books by Grigory Yavlinsky
The Center for Economic and Political Research (EPIcenter)
Moscow, May 1992


The abolition of the USSR and the formation of the CIS had a dual content from the outset. This was declared to be a way out of the impasse and the beginning of a new era of real cooperation. It was accomplished in the form of a coup, with a modification of the state's territorial composition, with the dismissal of the existing bodies of state authority, in a situation of secrecy and separatism.

Russia was one of the initiators of this. Its government announced its intention to build new relationships with its partners and to create a new Commonwealth. The other republics declared the same.


Ukraine, whose participation in the CIS was declared to be the chief argument in the community's favour, has been working persistently in fact to secure independence from the CIS as well. Radicals speak bluntly of the need for earliest possible withdrawal from the Commonwealth.

Belarus, which used to be the most consistent in advocating cooperation, has been making ever more steps towards separation (its own armed forces).

Moldova, which never particularly aspired to a union with the former fraternal republics, is considerably closer to Romania in real terms than to any one of them. The conflict in Trans-Dniestria, which sharply exacerbated its relations with Russia, has been further distancing Moldova from the CIS.

Armenia and Azerbaijan, torn apart by Karabakh, are not in a position to take part in the Commonwealth's affairs.

Georgia is busy deciding on the internal problems involved in the change of power. Though it has incipient contacts with the CIS, it does not consider joining it to be an immediate task.

Kazakhstan, predisposed for cooperation, has, however, been doing all it can to reinforce its own positions (unprecedented activity in establishing foreign contacts).

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan maintain that they are not prepared for the implementation of reforms. Their cooperation with the republics being reformed seems hardly feasible.

Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian republic, which is particularly active in implementing democratic changes, needs assistance and cannot play an initiating role, though it has a direct stake in the Commonwealth.

Tadjikistan is engrossed in the internal problem of the crisis of power.

Russia, which must be the natural centre of attraction in the Commonwealth, continues to fulfill this role mainly in the sense of transferring the former Union property to its jurisdiction and securing legal succession in international organizations.

None of the republics are real subjects of the Commonwealth. None of them have bent purposeful efforts on the creation of an effective system. Its main elements are still lacking:

- no comprehensive package of treaties in the main policy directions has been worked out;

- no permanent coordinating bodies - meaning an apparat capable of ensuring the functioning of a large inter-state amalgamation - have been formed;

- none of the necessary structures for the solution of the most critical inter-state problems like those of Karabakh and Trans-Dniestria have been set up;

- no special policy has been devised in relation to things which are impossible to divide immediately; first and foremost, this concerns the military.

What is there in real terms? Conferences, negotiations at different levels, meetings, documents.

Meetings by heads of state, after each of which an announcement is made about dozens of signed documents and a host of resolved issues, are considered to be the most important. It is enough to carefully study at least some of the existing decisions.

A package of questions pertaining to military development was discussed at a meeting of the CIS heads of state in Minsk in February 1992. Its participants were offered a two-point decision: forming a Council of Ministers of Defence of the CIS countries and approving a Statute of this Council.

The significance of this document is self-evident, especially in such conditions of mounting interethnic conflicts. The Council could become a coordinating body making it possible largely to resolve the sharp issues linked to the presence of army formations on the territory of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova.

Only five of the eleven states signed this document. Moreover, Kazakhstan maintained that it was not necessary to endorse the Statute on the Council, although it was clear that without a clearly defined range of rights and duties the Council's activity would be practically meaningless. Among the non-signatories were Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.

Another typical example: the agreement on the status of the strategic forces. On the surface, the picture is quite favourable: the agreement has been approved by everyone save Moldova. However, three states signed this document with remarks and Armenia reserved a special opinion. Ukraine's remarks, however, boil down to a need to delete from the agreement's text the point concerning the maintenance of the strategic forces. The maintenance is to be carried out according to the fixed fees of the states, whereas their property is the common property of all the CIS states. If that article is changed, the document's entire meaning is changed. The same meeting adopted a statement from the heads of state on concerted action in implementing the economic reform, which elucidated the character of the adopted documents from a different angle. In signing it the heads of state displayed envious unanimity for the simple reason that the given statement imposed no mutual commitments on the high-contracting parties. It is framed in the same way the resolutions of the CPSU Central Committee's Plenums were adopted in the good old days. The origin of this style can be easily explained. There is everything in it: the understanding of aims, the statement of major problems, and indications of how they must be tackled. The only thing lacking is a specific address and concreteness. And what there is is the painfully familiar: "ensure", "make strict provisions", "enhance", "strengthen", "take measures", etc.

These examples reflect all the substance of the adopted decisions and signed documents. The documents are declarative for the most part and often understood by the signatories in different, sometimes directly opposite, ways. It is impossible to do anything real on the basis of these documents. The questions, said to have been decided, turn out not to have been resolved by everyone, and are then endlessly discussed or immediately become unrealizable - as, for example, the decided issue on the pursuit of an agreed-upon economic policy.

As a result, instead of the CIS as an effective structure we have a declaration provided with numerous doc substance.