Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 85

The joint commission charged with summing up the results of the nationwide discussion of union between Russia and Belarus met in Moscow for the first time yesterday. Reporting on the proceedings, ORT said the proposed union has split politicians in both countries into two hostile camps. In Belarus, critics of the proposed union have been accused by President Lukashenko’s entourage of being "a fifth column supported by foreign forces." And in Russia, the television network said, ORT has itself come under strong criticism from the pro-union camp merely for trying to present all sides of opinion.

Moreover, the issue has reignited dormant personal animosities. Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov has accused his old enemies First Deputy Premier Anatoly Chubais, Security Council deputy secretary Boris Berezovsky, and former prime minister Yegor Gaidar of being "the main opponents of unification." (ORT, April 29) Former speaker of the Belarus Supreme Soviet Stanislau Shushkevich hit back hard: he accused Mayor Luzhkov and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, among others, of plotting "a coup d’etat" to undermine the constitutional order in Russia as well as in Belarus. Shushkevich told a Moscow conference the proposed union will be to the economic advantage only of Gazprom — the Russian gas monopoly which Chernomyrdin formerly headed. (Kommersant-daily, April 29)

Russian Exclave’s Governor Claims Area from Lithuania.