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The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) ( ) is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Unionmarker.

The CIS is comparable to a very loose association of states and in no way comparable to a federation, confederation or supra-national organisation such as the old European Community. It is more comparable to the Commonwealth of Nations. Although the CIS has few supranational powers, it is more than a purely symbolic organization, possessing coordinating powers in the realm of trade, finance, lawmaking, and security. It has also promoted cooperation on democratization and cross-border crime prevention. As a regional organization, CIS participates in UN peacekeeping forces. Some of the members of the CIS have established the Eurasian Economic Community with the aim of creating a full-fledged common market.


The organization was founded on 8 December 1991 by the Republic of Belarusmarker, the Russian Federationmarker, and Ukrainemarker, when the leaders of the three countries met in the Belovezhskaya Pushchamarker Natural Reserve, about 50 km (30 miles) north of Brestmarker in Belarus and signed a Creation Agreement ( , Soglasheniye) on the dissolution of the Soviet Unionmarker and the creation of CIS as a successor entity to the USSRmarker. At the same time they announced that the new alliance would be open to all republics of the former Soviet Union, as well as other nations sharing the same goals. The CIS charter stated that all the members were sovereign and independent nations and thereby effectively abolished the Soviet Unionmarker.

On 21 December 1991, the leaders of eight additional former Soviet Republics – Armeniamarker, Azerbaijanmarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Moldovamarker, Turkmenistanmarker, Tajikistanmarker, and Uzbekistanmarker – agreed to join the CIS, thus bringing the number of participating countries to 11. Georgiamarker joined two years later, in December 1993. As of that time, 12 of the 15 former Soviet Republics participated in the CIS. Three former Soviet Republics, the Baltic states of Estoniamarker, Latviamarker, and Lithuaniamarker chose not to join.

In March 2007, Igor Ivanov, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, expressed his doubts concerning the usefulness of CIS, and emphasizing that the Eurasian Economic Community became a more competent organization to unify the biggest countries of the CIS. In May 2009 the six countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine joined the Eastern Partnership, a project which was initiated by the European Union (EU).

Military structures

When Yeltsin became Russian Defence Minister on 7 May 1992, Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, the man appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the CIS Armed Forces, and his staff, were ejected from the MOD and General Staff buildings and given offices in the former Warsaw Pact Headquarters at 41 Leningradsky Prospekt on the northern outskirts of Moscow. Shaposhnikov resigned in June 1993.

In December 1993, the CIS Armed Forces Headquarters was abolished. Instead, 'the CIS Council of Defence Ministers created a CIS Military Cooperation Coordination Headquarters (MCCH) in Moscow, with 50 per cent of the funding provided by Russia.' General Viktor Samsonov was appointed as Chief of Staff.

Membership status of CIS countries

The Creation Agreement remained the main constituent document of the CIS until January 1993, when the CIS Charter ( , Ustav) was adopted. The charter formalized the concept of membership: a member country is defined as a country that ratifies the CIS Charter (sec. 2, art. 7). Turkmenistan has not ratified the charter and changed its CIS standing to associate member as of 26 August 2005 in order to be consistent with its UN-recognized international neutrality status. Although Ukraine was one of the three founding countries and ratified the Creation Agreement in December 1991, Ukraine did not to ratify the CIS Charter and is not a member of the CIS.

Country Signed Ratified Charter ratified Membership Status
21 December 1991 18 February 1992 16 March 1994 official member
21 December 1991 24 September 1993 14 December 1993 official member
8 December 1991 10 December 1991 18 January 1994 official member
21 December 1991 23 December 1991 20 April 1994 official member
21 December 1991 6 March 1992 12 April 1994 official member
21 December 1991 8 April 1994 27 June 1994 official member
8 December 1991 12 December 1991 20 July 1993 official member
21 December 1991 26 June 1993 4 August 1993 official member
21 December 1991 26 December 1991 Not ratified unofficial associate member
8 December 1991 10 December 1991 Not ratified de facto participating; officially not a member
21 December 1991 1 April 1992 9 February 1994 official member

Between the years of 2003 and 2005, three CIS member states experienced a change of government in a series of colour revolutions: Eduard Shevardnadze was overthrown in Georgia, Viktor Yushchenko was elected in Ukraine, and, lastly, Askar Akayev was toppled in Kyrgyzstan. In February 2006, Georgia officially withdrew from the Council of Defense Ministers, with the statement that "Georgia has taken a course to join NATO and it cannot be part of two military structures simultaneously", but it remained a full member of the CIS until August 2009.

Former members

Country Signed Ratified Charter ratified Withdrawn Effective
3 December 1993 19 April 1994 18 August 2008 17 August 2009

Following the South Ossetian war in 2008, President Saakashvili announced during a public speech in the capital city Tbilisimarker that Georgia would leave the CIS and the Georgian Parliament voted unanimously (on 14 August 2008) to withdraw from the regional organization. On 18 August 2008 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia sent a note to the CIS Executive Committee notifying it of the aforesaid resolutions of the Parliament of Georgia and Georgia’s withdrawal from CIS. In accordance with the CIS Charter (sec. 1, art. 9), Georgia's withdrawal came into effect 12 months later, on 18 August 2009. According to a Gallup poll conducted almost a year after the war, the decision to break ties with the CIS was in stark contrast with Georgian public opinion.

Executive Secretaries of CIS

Name Country Term
Ivan Korotchenya 26 December 1991 - 29 April 1998
Boris Berezovsky 29 April 1998 - 4 March 1999
Ivan Korotchenya (acting) 4 March - 2 April 1999
Yury Yarov 2 April 1999 - 14 June 2004
Vladimir Rushailo 14 June 2004 - 5 October 2007
Sergei Lebedev since 5 October 2007

Recent events

Following the withdraw of Georgia, the presidents of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan skipped the Oct 2009 meeting of the CIS.

Eurasian Economic Community

The Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC or EAEC) originated from a customs union between Belarusmarker, Russia and Kazakhstanmarker on the 29 March 1996. It was named EEC on 10 October 2000 when Belarusmarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Russia, and Tajikistanmarker signed the treaty. EurAsEC was formally created when the treaty was finally ratified by all five member states in May 2001. Armeniamarker, Moldovamarker and Ukrainemarker have the observer status. EurAsEC is working on establishing a common energy market and exploring the more efficient use of water in central Asia.

Organization of Central Asian Cooperation

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistanmarker and Uzbekistan formed the OCAC in 1991 as Central Asian Commonwealth (CAC). The organization continued in 1994 as Central Asian Economic Union (CAEU), in which Tajikistan and Turkmenistan did not participate. In 1998 it became Central Asian Economic Cooperation (CAEC), which marked the return of Tajikistan. On 28 February 2002 it was renamed to its current name. Russia joined on 28 May 2004. On 7 October 2005 it was decided between the member states that Uzbekistan will join the Eurasian Economic Community and that the organizations will merge. The organizations joined on 25 January 2006. It is not clear what will happen to the status of current CACO observers that are not observers to EurAsEC (Georgiamarker and Turkeymarker).

Common Economic Space

After discussion about the creation of a common economic space between the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries of Russia, Ukrainemarker, Belarusmarker, and Kazakhstanmarker, agreement in principle about the creation of this space was announced after a meeting in the Moscow suburb of Novo-Ogarevomarker on 23 February 2003. The Common Economic Space would involve a supranational commission on trade and tariffs that would be based in Kievmarker, would initially be headed by a representative of Kazakhstanmarker, and would not be subordinate to the governments of the four nations. The ultimate goal would be a regional organisation that would be open for other countries to join as well, and could eventually lead even to a single currency.

On 22 May 2003 The Verkhovna Radamarker (the Ukrainian Parliament) voted 266 votes in favour and 51 against the joint economic space. However, most believe that Viktor Yushchenko's victory in the Ukrainian presidential election of 2004 was a significant blow against the project: Yushchenko has shown renewed interest in Ukrainian membership in the European Union, and such membership would be incompatible with the envisioned common economic space. The creation of a common economic space for Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus may be launched on 1 January 2010.

Economic data

The data is taken from the UN  Statistics Division.
Country Population GDP 2006 GDP 2007 growth per capita
Belarus 9,688,796 36,961,815,474 44,773,406,221 21.13% 4,621
Russia 142,498,534 984,926,789,696 1,289,582,151,445 30.93% 9,050
Kazakhstan 15,421,864 81,003,864,916 104,143,432,632 28.57% 6,753
Kyrgyzstan 5,316,544 2,834,168,893 3,745,000,489 32.14% 704
Uzbekistan 27,372,256 17,077,480,575 19,274,619,012 12.87% 704
Tajikistan 6,735,996 2,830,213,563 3,737,572,699 32.06% 555
EAEC total 207,033,990 1,125,634,333,117 1,465,256,182,498 30.17% 7,077
Azerbaijan 8,467,171 20,981,929,498 31,248,521,184 48.93% 3,691
Ukraine 46,205,379 107,753,069,307 141,177,227,723 31.02% 3,055
Moldova 3,793,603 3,408,283,313 4,394,888,125 28.95% 1,158
GUAM total 62,861,573 139,888,538,550 186,996,463,870 33.68% 2,975
Armenia 3,002,271 6,386,714,351 9,177,274,353 43.69% 3,057
Turkmenistan 4,965,275 6,511,997,714 7,253,230,940 11.38% 1,461
Grand total 277,863,109 1,278,421,583,732 1,668,683,151,661 30.53% 6,005

Collective Security Treaty Organisation

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) (Russian: Организация Договора о Коллективной Безопасности) or simply the Tashkent Treaty (Russian: Ташкентский договор) first began as the CIS Collective Security Treaty which was signed on 15 May 1992, by Armeniamarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Russian Federationmarker, Tajikistanmarker and Uzbekistanmarker, in the city of Tashkentmarker. Azerbaijanmarker signed the treaty on 24 September 1993, Georgiamarker on 9 December 1993 and Belarusmarker on 31 December 1993. The treaty came into effect on 20 April 1994.


The CST was set to last for a 5-year period unless extended. On 2 April 1999, only six members of the CST signed a protocol renewing the treaty for another five year period -- Azerbaijanmarker, Georgiamarker and Uzbekistanmarker refused to sign and withdrew from the treaty instead. Organization was named CSTO on 7 October 2002 in Tashkentmarker. Nikolai Bordyuzha was appointed secretary general of the new organization. During 2005, the CSTO partners conducted some common military exercises. In 2005, Uzbekistan withdrew from GUAM and on 23 June 2006, Uzbekistanmarker became a full participant in the CSTO and its membership was formally ratified by its parliament on 28 March 2008. The CSTO is an observer organization at the United Nations General Assembly.

The charter reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force. Signatories would not be able to join other military alliances or other groups of states, while aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all. To this end, the CSTO holds yearly military command exercises for the CSTO nations to have an opportunity to improve inter-organization cooperation. The largest-scale CSTO military exercise held to date were the "Rubezh 2008" exercises hosted in Armeniamarker where a combined total of 4,000 troops from all 7 constituent CSTO member countries conducted operative, strategic, and tactical training with an emphasis towards furthering efficiency of the collective security element of the CSTO partnership.

Recent events

In May 2007 the CSTO secretary-general Nikolai Bordyuzha suggested Iranmarker could join the CSTO saying, "The CSTO is an open organization. If Iran applies in accordance with our charter, we will consider the application." If Iran joined it would be the first state outside the former Soviet Union to become a member of the organization.

On 6 October 2007, CSTO members agreed to a major expansion of the organization that would create a CSTO peacekeeping force that could deploy under a U.N. mandate or without one in its member states. The expansion would also allow all members to purchase Russian weapons at the same price as Russia. CSTO signed an agreement with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, to broaden cooperation on issues such as security, crime, and drug trafficking.

On 29 August 2008, Russia announced it would seek CSTO recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Three days before, on 26 August, Russia recognized the independence of Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On 5 September 2008, Armeniamarker assumed the rotating CSTO presidency during a CSTO meeting in Moscow, Russia.

In October 2009 Ukraine refused permission for the CIS Anti-Terrorist Center to hold anti-terrorist exercises on its territory because Ukraine's constitution bans foreign military units from operating on its territory.

Other Activities

Election observation missions

The CIS Election Monitoring Organization ( ) is an election monitoring body that was formed in October 2002, following a Commonwealth of Independent States heads of states meeting which adopted the Convention on the Standards of Democratic Elections, Electoral Rights, and Freedoms in the Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The CIS-EMO has been sending election observers to member countries of the CIS since this time.

  • The democratic nature of the final round of the Ukrainian presidential election, 2004 which followed the Orange Revolution and brought into power the former opposition, was questioned by the CIS while the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) found no significant problems. This was the first time ever that the CIS observation teams challenged the validity of an election, saying that it should be considered illegitimate. On 15 March 2005, the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency quoted Dmytro Svystkov (a spokesman of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry) that Ukraine has suspended its participation in the CIS election monitoring organization.
  • The CIS praised the Uzbekistan parliamentary elections, 2005 as "legitimate, free and transparent" while the OSCE had referred to the Uzbek elections as having fallen "significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections".
  • Moldovan authorities refused to invite CIS observers in the Moldovan parliamentary elections, 2005, an action Russia criticized. Many dozens such observers from Belarus and Russia were stopped from reaching Moldova.
  • CIS observers monitored the Tajikistan parliamentary elections, 2005 and in the end declared them "legal, free and transparent." The same elections were pronounced by the OSCE to have failed international standards for democratic elections.
  • Soon after CIS observers hailed the Kyrgyz parliamentary elections of 2005 as well-organized, free, and fair. A large-scale and often violent demonstrations broke out throughout the country protesting what the opposition called a rigged parliamentary election. In contrast the OSCE reported that the elections fell short of international standards in many areas.

Inter-Parliamentary Assembly

The Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, established in March 1995, is a consultative parliamentary wing of the CIS created to discuss problems of parliamentary cooperation. The Assembly will hold its 32nd Plenary meeting in Saint Petersburgmarker on 14 May 2009.

Russian language

Russia has been urging that the Russian language receive official status in all of the CIS member states. So far Russian is an official language in four of these states: Russia, Belarusmarker, Kazakhstanmarker, and Kyrgyzstanmarker. Russian is also considered an official language in the region of Transnistriamarker, and the autonomous region of Gagauziamarker in Moldovamarker. Viktor Yanukovych, the Moscow-supported presidential candidate in the controversial Ukrainian presidential election, 2004, declared his intention to make Russian an official second language of Ukraine. However, Viktor Yushchenko, the winner, did not do so, since he was closely aligned with the Ukrainian-speaking population.

Olympic Games

During the 1992 Olympic Games (in Albertville, France, and Barcelona, Spain), athletes from the CIS member states competed as the Unified Team for the last time. In some other sports events in that year, such as the European Championships in football, athletes took part as members of the CIS team. Since then, athletes from the member states have competed for their home countries' teams.

See also


External links

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