Russia leaves Kaliningrad citizens to the mercy of fate

Senator Valery Ustyugov abdicates his responsibility

Today, the Federation Council lost one of its members: Senator Valery Ustyugov (from the Kaliningrad Region administration) declared his intention to quit his post.

As a reason for this move, he stated his “disagreement with the authorities policy on the solution of the visa issue of the region's citizens” and his disagreement with “appointment of Dmitry Rogozin, the RF special representative, to the Kaliningrad issue.”

Ustyugov believes that Rogozin will not fulfill his duties and that the Kaliningrad issue will be ignored, and, therefore the Russian-EU Copenhagen summit will not bring any positive results. “I am sure that, starting with July 1, 2003, the visa regime will be introduced for Russians,” – said Ustyugov in his interview to the Kaskad newspaper.

This person is a supporter of a compromise with the European Union; with this fact, his pessimism could be easily explained. “The solution to our problems is not in an opposition to our interests and those of the European Union… A compromise decision should be found in “the war of sovereignties,” – Ustyugov says.

However, none of the affected parties, Ustyugov states, reacted yet to his propositions. (Most likely, the principle of trying to please both sides suites everybody). Anyway, Ustyugov did what he should have done, so he can go. He did not want to feel responsible for the “dull policy.” (The Kaliningrad Region leadership, in its turn, supposes that “the senator simply got excited, and his political demarche will not be noticed by the local citizens, Gazeta.Ru reports).

Russia does not intend to easily “surrender” Kaliningrad. Today, deputy representative of the Foreign Ministry Boris Malakhov gave an interview to RIA ‘Novosti’. In particular, he said that, in negotiations with German President Johannes Rau September 2-5, the Russian leadership “intends one more time to draw the attention of the German partners to the issue of the Kaliningrad Region's life support in the context of the European Union expansion.” One of the main tasks is to guarantee an unhampered transit connection with the rest of Russia. Moscow hopes for that Berlin's position on the Kaliningrad Region issue will be constructive and close Russia's position and that the Germans will not try to put a spoke into Russia’s wheels.

Yesterda,y the above-mentioned Dmitry Rogozin met in Warsaw with the representatives of the Polish Seym Foreign Commission. So, what did they speak about? About the Kaliningrad issue, of course, and about the latest initiatives of Vladimir Putin (who proposed to abolish visas for Russian and the EU citizens). The Polish side did not fail to remember that it will support the EU decision on this issue; however the most drastic mood of the Russian leadership deserves praises.

According to Rogozin, Russia is considering two variants to solve the Kaliningrad issue: unhampered movement of railway transport and buses (car travel is a separate question) through Lithuanian and Polish territories and keeping a high level of trans-border cooperation. The Russian side understands that visas will be introduced; however, they should be many-time and many-year visas and not expensive, so as to help tens of thousands of people who live off the transborder trade.

As for the EU position on the Kaliningrad issue, the statement of Poul Skytte Christoffersen, permanent representative of Denmark to the EU, should be mentioned. He said that the European Union cannot allow the Schengen Agreement principles to be violated. At the same time, the European Union is ready to “work out a compromise” on the Kaliningrad Region issue.

You know, this is an evasive answer. Russia has its own position on the issue, while ex-senator Valery Ustyugov has his own. Sergei Yugov PRAVDA.Ru

Transalted by Vera Solovieva

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