RUSSIAN REACTION TO TREATY WITH UKRAINE. State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said 31 May would go down in history as a "great day" and expressed confidence that the Russian parliament will ratify the friendship treaty signed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, ITAR-TASS reported. Seleznev also praised the treaty for allowing Russia to keep its military infrastructure in Sevastopol. By contrast, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov slammed the agreements, saying "we will be renting Sevastopol from ourselves," Interfax reported. Luzhkov added that "Sevastopol is a Russian city, and it will be Russian regardless of the decisions taken." Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov, who had criticized the recent accords on dividing the Black Sea Fleet, neither praised nor condemned the friendship treaty. Zyuganov said he supported any steps leading to closer ties with Ukraine (see related stories in Part II of today's RFE/RL Newsline).
GEORGIA CONTINUES TO DEMAND SHARE OF BLACK SEA FLEET. National Security adviser Archil Gegeshidze, presidential spokesman Vakhtang Abashidze, and Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili continued on 30-31 May to insist that Georgia has a rightful claim to part of the Black Sea Fleet, Russian agencies reported. Gegeshidze told Interfax that Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov's statement on 29 May that Georgia received vessels from Ukraine's share of the fleet was incorrect. He added that Kyiv's transfer of one patrol boat to Georgia in April was merely a "goodwill gesture." Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii told journalists on 30 May that Russia does not recognize Georgia's claims, ITAR-TASS reported.
UKRAINIAN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS SIGN POLITICAL TREATY. Leonid Kuchma and Boris Yeltsin signed a wide-ranging political treaty on 31 May in Kyiv. The 10-year treaty, which will automatically be extended for 10-year periods if neither side cancels it, states that Russia accepts Ukraine's territorial integrity and its sovereignty over the Crimean peninsula. It also confirms that Russia will assume all foreign debts accrued by Soviet-era Ukraine in exchange for all foreign assets accumulated by Kyiv under communism. Kuchma hailed the signing of the treaty as an "event of huge importance" that opened "a new stage" in bilateral relations. Yeltsin's spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii said the agreement solved all outstanding problems between Russia and Ukraine and ended a cycle of "distrust" and "suspicion," Interfax reported. Yastrzhembskii had said on 30 May that Yeltsin was concerned about discrimination against the Russian language and culture in Ukraine.
SECURITY ASPECTS OF RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TREATY. Under the new treaty, Russia and Ukraine have pledged not to enter into agreements with third countries aimed against each other and not to allow their territories to be used to the detriment of each other's security. Yeltsin and Kuchma also signed a declaration on the division of the Black Sea fleet, formalizing a deal reached during Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's recent visit (see RFE/RL Newsline, 29 May 1997). In addition, the two presidents called for reinforcing the role of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and issued a statement against stationing NATO troops and nuclear weapons in countries that are not yet members of the alliance. But Yeltsin's spokesman Yastrzhembskii told reporters on 30 May that Russia remains opposed to the NATO-led "Sea Breeze" naval exercises scheduled for August off the coast of Crimea, Reuters reported.
KYIV REJECTS YELTSIN'S OFFER OF DEFENSE "IN EXTREME SITUATIONS." Ukrainian Security and Defense Council Secretary Volodymyr Horbulin says Kyiv has not asked Russia to help defend Ukraine, Reuters reported on 30 May. In a TV interview broadcast before he left for Kyiv, Yeltsin said that under the Russian-Ukrainian agreements to be signed, the two countries would "participate together to defend Ukraine" if it became necessary and would help each other "in extreme situations." Horbulin commented, "I think President Yeltsin was guided by his best intentions but there were no [such] requests from the Ukrainian side."
WORLD BANK APPROVES GUARANTEES FOR UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN COMPANIES INVOLVED IN SEA LAUNCH VENTURE. The World Bank has approved partial risk guarantees worth $200 million to cover Russian and Ukrainian enterprises involved in the Sea Launch joint venture, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported on 3O May. The companies involved in that venture, which is aimed at launching commercial satellites from a converted oil platform, are the U.S. Boeing Commercial space company, Russia's RSC Energia, Ukraine's Yuzhnoye, and Norway's Kvaerner Maritime. Russian and Ukrainian rockets and launch systems will be transported to the U.S. to be assembled with Boeing satellites and taken to a remote area of the Pacific for launching. The guarantees cover only political risks and are a complex arrangement involving the companies as well as the governments of Russia and Ukraine. World Bank Vice President Johannes Linn said the project should foster economic benefits for Russia and Ukraine totaling some $2 billion and help maintain up to 30,000 high-paying jobs in both countries.
EXTREME NATIONALISTS MAKE THREAT ON ROMANIAN PRESIDENT'S LIFE. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea said in an interview with RFE/RL on 1 June that if necessary, the "relevant authorities" will take "all appropriate measures" against threats on the life of Romanian President Emil Constantinescu. The threats were made in connection with the signing on 31 May of the Romanian-Ukrainian basic treaty. The extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party's weekly Politica on 24 May published a letter, signed by the Association of Romanian Nationalists in the Diaspora, saying Constantinescu, Ciorbea, and other officials will be "assassinated" because they are guilty of "high treason." The letter also says Romania will not be admitted to an expanded NATO because its main enemy is "international Jewry headed by the freemason Bill Clinton, whose foreign minister is the Jewess Iana [sic] Miriam Korbel, known under the pseudonym of Madeleine Albright."