Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Yeltsin Doctrine' Planned in Ex-U.S.S.R.

The Kremlin is planning to issue a policy statement linking its relations with Russia's ex-Soviet neighbors to the treatment of their Russian minorities, in what would amount to a "Yeltsin Doctrine."

A draft decree, which was released by nationalist activist Dmitry Rogozin at a press conference Wednesday, authorizes the creation of a new powerful government commission to oversee the plight of the estimated 25 million Russians in the republics of the so-called near abroad.

It is accompanied by a 42-point government resolution that entrusts seven ministries and the Central Bank with putting a concrete program into action.

The preamble to the government resolution states: "The resolution of questions of financial, economic, social and military-political cooperation between Russia and certain states will be made contingent on the concrete position the leadership of these states takes in recognizing the rights and interests of Russians on their territory."

The decree would make into official doctrine what has been informal Kremlin policy for some time. It would set out rules for relations with the near abroad in a less threatening version of the Brezhnev doctrine that governed the Soviet Union's dealings with Eastern Europe for more than two decades.

The document also shows that Yeltsin has now stolen some of the trappings of his nationalist opposition.

The government commission, the resolution says, will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, who lost his job as nationalities minister in May The move confirms a report in the daily newspaper Commersant two weeks ago that Shakhrai was being propelled into a new job it jokingly called "national commissar for compatriots." A Kremlin official, who asked not to be named, said at the time that some kind of official document would be signed giving Shakhrai such a post "very soon" but declined to give more details.

Yeltsin's spokesman Anatoly Krasikov declined to comment on a decree which had not yet been signed Wednesday. He said only that the issue of Russians abroad was "one of the important issues" the president was dealing with.

Yeltsin told Itar-Tass that he would leave Thursday for a week-long "working trip down the Volga by steamer."

Yeltsin has been taking a progressively tougher line with his ex-Soviet neighbors this year on their treatment of their Russian minorities.

The president began 1994 with a New Year message promising support for compatriots abroad. Last week he thundered at Latvia for a "dangerous drift towards militant nationalism" because of its new citizenship law, which will allow many Russians to apply for passports only after the year 2000.

According to the documents the government will use economic carrots, such as promising trade credits to countries which protect the rights of their local Russians, and political sticks, such as raising the treatment of Russian minorities at the United Nations and other international forums.

The program also envisages cultural projects and broadcasting stations for Russians abroad and help for Russian businesses in ex-Soviet states.

But the tone of the resolution, the most comprehensive document to come out of the government on the subject of Russians abroad, is milder than nationalist critics have been seeking.

Rogozin, who heads the Congress of Russian Communities, a movement that has set itself up as the champion of ethnic Russians in foreign territory, said he was "fairly satisfied" by the document but said it did not go far enough.

Rogozin said no distinction should be made between the position of ethnic Russians outside the borders of Russia and inside, in the North Caucasian republics for example.

He said Russians everywhere were suffering "destruction, humiliation and flight" in their adopted countries. They needed specific guarantees that they would be rescued from wars or potentially explosive situations such as the one in Chechnya.

Rogozin also called for "mobile radio stations" which could broadcast from close range into the Baltic countries, the particular object of his concern.

He also said that the frontiers drawn up between the new states after the end of the Soviet Union should still be regarded as negotiable.

Rogozin declined to say how many members his movement had but said it had over 50 branches across the ex-Soviet Union.