Moscow, 15 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Aman Tuleyev says Russia is losing its economic positions in the former Soviet Republics while Western countries are filling the vacancies. Tuleyev is the minister responsible for relations with other CIS members. Tuleyev told Interfax news agency yesterday that the West has already invested more than $30 billion in former Soviet republics.
Tuleyev cited Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan as countries aggressively seeking Western investment partners. Tuleyev said these countries especially are making strenuous efforts to become re-oriented to the West, or create their own unions inside the CIS. Even though they owe Russia large debts, Tuleyev said, for these countries Russia has been relegated to a secondary role.
Tuleyev says that by raising economic barriers at one time, Russia actually pushed former Soviet republics "into the arms of the West." But, he said Russia can preserve its interests in other CIS members only by ensuring the repayment of their estimated $6 billion in debts. He said the way to accomplish this is to secure property in other CIS countries to ensure debts are paid. Tuleyev said that if this strategy had been introduced earlier, the property in Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet would have long belonged to Russia.