Seeking to turn what they called an international humiliation into a domestic campaign issue, nationalists, Communists and some moderates in the Russian Parliament Saturday demanded that President Boris N. Yeltsin suspend Russia’s cooperation agreement with NATO because of its bombing of the Bosnian Serbs over Russia’s objections.
In a special session of the lower house called to consider Russia’s position on Bosnia, the legislators passed a nonbinding resolution that called for Russia to suspend the NATO agreement and demanded the dismissal of Foreign Minister Andrei V. Kozyrev.
The resolution passed by a vote of 258-2 in a session boycotted by most of the more liberal politicians in the 450-member lower house. It also called for a unilateral lifting of the trade embargo on Serbia and for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
Yeltsin did not immediately respond, but seems unlikely to suspend Russia’s agreement with NATO. It is unclear whether the political pressure might force him to adopt a more confrontational stance in dealing with the United States and its European allies, or whether it might force him to dismiss Kozyrev, who critics say is too sympathetic to NATO’s position on Bosnia. Kozyrev was in Greece during the parliamentary debate.
The message from the nationalists and Communists, that Russia is being denied its rightful place as a superpower, was a familiar one. But with the campaign for parliamentary elections in December gearing up, a broad array of politicians took the session as an opportunity to apportion blame for Russia’s loss of international influence.
Gennadi Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party, called the situation in the former Yugoslavia “an obvious failure of Russian foreign policy” and said the Russian military should be given the right to fight voluntarily on the Serbian side in the conflict.
Yeltsin has been broadly supportive of the latest American-led peace proposal for Bosnia while sharply criticizing American dominance of NATO and its bombing campaign in what was once a Soviet sphere of influence.
Anticipating the tenor of Saturday’s debate, Yeltsin had used increasingly harsh language to criticize NATO over the past several days.