Belarusan president Aleksandr Lukashenko is holding final negotiations with Russian president Boris Yeltsin in Moscow today, before tomorrow’s scheduled signing of the Russia-Belarus Union Charter. Lukashenko opposes the Kremlin’s proposal that the charter stipulate, as a common goal, the future accession of Belarus to the Russian Federation. He professes to seek the preservation of full Belarusan sovereignty but, at the same time, strong powers for the union’s top bodies. The Kremlin opposes such an arrangement because it fears facing a combination of Lukashenko’s men and Russian leftists in those joint bodies. Differences also persist over where these agencies are to convene, the application of the one-country-one-vote principle, and the two presidents’ de facto veto powers on union-level decisions. Moscow yesterday unveiled a proposal to establish a Union Court, responsible inter alia for enforcing human rights in both countries; Minsk opposes that. Most of the Russian government remains opposed to bearing the costs of an economic union. The Belarusan government complained publicly yesterday that Russia’s Gazprom insists on cash reimbursement on Minsk’s arrears, refusing Belarusan offers to pay in the form of construction work and services. (Belapan, Russian and Western agencies, May 21)
New Era in Ukrainian-Polish Relations.