Chernomyrdin's peace efforts criticized by some Russians
June 3, 1999
From Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty
Chernomyrdin and the Balkan envoy from the European Union, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, succeeded in getting Yugoslavia to accept a peace plan proposed by the Group of Eight -- the world's top seven industrialized nations and Russia.
Chernomyrdin told reporters that the basic results of the plan involve putting the peace efforts under the auspices of the United Nations. He said a resolution must be passed by the U.N. Security Council to carry out the agreement.
"Yugoslavia is whole and indivisible," he said. "Kosovo will be part of Yugoslavia and Kosovo will have wide autonomy and the safe return of the refugees and their living has been secured. And all of that will happen under the aegis of the U.N. That's the essence of what we accomplished at this stage -- bringing this into the legal purview of the United Nations."
But Russian military leaders warned that ambiguities in the agreement still need to be clarified.
"We, in the military, our hearts are not satisfied because there are a lot of unclear things," said Gen. Leonid Ivashov, a Russian parliament member. "A lot depends on the good faith of our partners in the political mediation."
If the Russian generals have their doubts, Russian politicians are even more skeptical of the plan.
Politicians on the left, including Communists, accuse the Russian special envoy of "selling out" Russian and Yugoslav interests to NATO.
"Chernomyrdin is known as an opportunist, the one who cares more about foreign interests than core Russian or Yugoslav interests," said Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov.
On the international stage, Chernomyrdin may have helped bring Europe to the verge of a peaceful solution to the Kosovo conflict. But he may pay a high price for it back home.
"I think Mr. Chernomyrdin will be very severely hit in Russian domestic politics because he certainly -- agreeing to this kind of agreement -- he certainly did not represent the mainstream of Russian thinking," said Russian political analyst Alexander Pushkov.
Now that he's sold a peace offer to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, analysts say he must prove that he did it without compromising Russia's own interests.
Chernomyrdin: U.S., Russia 'closer' to Kosovo solution
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