Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to rally the leaders of the former Soviet states as Moscow tries to reassert its power in the region.
The 12-strong Commonwealth of Independent States brings together the likes of Ukraine’s Vicktor Yushchenko and Alexander Lukashenko from Belarus. They represent both ends of the spectrum – Yushchenko a recently-elected pro-Western leader, Lukashenko what the US describes as “Europe’s last dictator”. Putin urged them to join together to boost trade and fight terrorism. Terrorism is one of the greatest fears as Moscow prepares to receive over 50 world leaders for its main event marking the end of World War II in Europe tomorrow. Chechen rebels fighting for an independent state have threatened to strike the capital during the celebrations. A total of 35,000 police and 40 aircraft will be mobilised in a massive security effort.