Yeltsin calms Sevastopol row

PRESIDENT Boris Yeltsin yesterday attacked the Russian parliament for laying claim to the Ukrainian naval port of Sevastopol, and Ukraine's ambassador to Moscow compared the move to the shot that started the First World War. The conservative parliament voted overwhelmingly on Friday to proclaim Sevastopol, the Black Sea fleet's base, as Russian property, and told the Ukrainian government to remove troops from the area.

The vote threatened to damage relations between Russia and Ukraine, which, after months of squabbling over what to do with the fleet, had agreed to divide the force equally by 1995.

'I feel ashamed about this decision,' Mr Yeltsin said in the central Siberian city of Irkutsk, as he waited for the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, to arrive for two days of talks near Lake Baikal. 'The problems of the Black Sea fleet and the town where it is based must be solved calmly and gradually,' he said. 'Otherwise, what do you want me to do - fight with Ukraine?'

Mr Yeltsin is involved in a power struggle with parliament and is unlikely to pay the resolution much attention. But a fresh quarrel with Ukraine would be an unwelcome distraction as he struggles to draw up a constitution for Russia, which would give him considerably more power.

The vote elicited a predictably angry reponse from Ukraine. Volodymyr Kryzhanovsky, Ukraine's ambassador to Moscow, said yesterday that the resolution could be compared to 'Gavrilo Princip's shot in Sarajevo'. Princip, a Serbian revolutionary student, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary in Sarajevo on 28 June, 1914, triggering the First World War.

Tass said Mr Yeltsin also sharply criticised moves by three important Russian regions - Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and the far eastern Primorsky Krai - to declare themselves republics.

The president needs the support of regional leaders to give final approval to a new constitution that would cut back parliament's powers while boosting his own. But some of the richer regions are now refusing to sign until they are granted the same law-making rights as the country's 20 ethnic republics.

Mr Yeltsin convened a special Constitutional Assembly last month to draw up the draft of the new constitution. The body is due to hold its final plenary session tomorrow.

Despite the dispute over the Black Sea fleet, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus agreed yesterday to form an economic union in an attempt to repair links shattered by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Itar-Tass news agency said the prime ministers of the three nations, meeting outside Moscow, had officially agreed on urgent measures to integrate their economies. They instructed experts to come up with a treaty for signing by 1 September this year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Support Engineer is required to join a well-...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Administrator - Swedish Speaking

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Manager is required to join the m...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Mobile - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum