The Race Away from Russia

lukashenko072009.jpgReuters points out some members of the CIS are having some disagreements with the Kremlin.

This year’s Presidential Cup horse race, a traditional cue for an informal gathering of the 11-member Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), drew only five top guests: the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Tajikistan.

The presidents of Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan all failed to show up, citing personal reasons. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko went instead to ride a Harley-Davidson at a local bikers’ rally.

“The CIS leaders used the chance … to show they are unhappy withthe state of relations with Russia,” said Alexei Mukhin, head of theCenter of Political Information think tank.

Medvedev’s predecessor Vladimir Putin had managed to stiffen theloyalty of the ex-Soviet states, helped by their economic dependence onMoscow and their fear of popular revolutions. But Russia’s war withGeorgia last year and a series of bilateral spats have strained thisloyalty again.

“A race away from Russia is inevitable,” analyst Leonid Radzikhovskysaid on an opposition-minded web site, Yezhednyevny Zhurnal.