Fiji has been a target of the Soviets/Russians for decades, as a potential base for spreading influence throughout the South Pacific.
Mahendra Chaudhry was close to the Soviets in the ’80s, as were many of his trade union/Fiji Labour Party colleagues.
It was fear of Soviet influence and their links to the radical Fiji Labour Party, that partially motivated Sitiveni Rabuka’s 1987 coup.
Recently, Chaudhry and his party have been close to China, but it appears that the Russians are also keen to exploit the new regime.
While NZ, Australia and the US are out of favour with Fiji’s new government, apparently the Russians are welcome.
Posted at 17:02 on 04 March, 2007 UTC
Russia was represented for the first time at the presentation of a Fiji government budget when the interim finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, revealed his financial plans last Friday.
Russia’s Canberra-based ambassador to the Pacific, Alexander Blokhin, attended the budget presentation in Suva.
The Russian presence coincided with the absence from the budget of the high commissioners of Australia and New Zealand and the ambassador for the United States, although the three diplomats have traditionally been present.
Representatives from all Asian and Pacific countries which have diplomatic offices in Fiji were present.
Mr Blokhin said through an interpreter that Russia was interested in investing in the agricultural sector and he wanted to introduce Russian businesses to Fiji.
I don’t know why Mr Blokhin needed an interpreter, as he is an English speaker.
He is also no lightweight;
From 2000/2002 he was Minister of the Russian Federation for Federal Affairs, Nationalities and Migration.
From 2002/2005 he served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Belarus.