Velvet Revolutionists Threaten CIS

MOSCOW, Russia -- Viewed as the "biggest internal threat" against the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which brings together former Soviet countries, the organization GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) sends strong signals to increase influence.

The GUAM leaders convened on Friday April 22 in Moldova. Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin while Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili called for "support for a future revolution" in his GUAM summit statement. Yesterday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice clearly pointed out Belarus as the location of the next velvet revolution. Ukraine and Georgia, who recently went through peaceful revolutions have started to be more influential in the organization. On the other hand, CIS, which is losing influence gradually, is likely to have difficult days because of GUAM.

Georgian "Rose revolution" leader Saakashvili in his statement at the summit yesterday also said Belarussians have the right to have independent elections and freedom of expression. As member countries of GUAM, they are ready to provide support for democratic developments in Belarus. At the summit, in which Saakashvili and Ukrainian "Orange Revolution" leader Victor Yushchenko shared the leading roles, Moldova, Azarbaijan, Romania, and Lithuania participated. GUAM leaders aim at establishing economic and strategic relations among themselves and with the US. While Saakashvili declared a sort of "democratic togetherness", Yushchenko presented an "autonomy plan" for solving the pro-Russian "separatist" crisis in Trans-Dinyester which deeply affects Moldova.

GUAM is expected to gain observer status at the United Nations (UN) in late 2005. The prominent Russian newspapers Izvestia likened yesterday's summit to a Bandung Conference for preparing ground for the Non-aligned Movement. The paper reported yesterday that GUAM will end the Russian influence over CIS. On the other hand, Russian Parliament's upper wing, Federation Assembly International Affairs Committee Chair Mikhail Margelov claimed that the organization promoting any imitation of orange revolution will not find any support in CIS.