Lawmakers in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in Russia’s Far East have added their voices to those of leaders in neighboring Primorsky Krai, where populist governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko has opposed a border agreement with China. (Itar-Tass, April 1) Under the 1991 treaty, Russia agreed to cede parts of Russian territory to China. Local leaders are rallying opposition to the transfer, and Primorsky’s Nazdratenko has set up his own political party to fight against it. Leaders in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast say they too want to hold a referendum against the plan to transfer five disputed islands, with a total area of about 3,000 square kilometers, to China. Under the terms of the Russian constitution, border issues do not fall within the purview of the regions but are the responsibility of the central government. Nevertheless, the issue is an emotive one that commands considerable support among the local population.
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