The intergovernmental Executive Committee (IK) of the Russia-Belarus Community of Sovereign States (SSR) held its inaugural session in Moscow yesterday. Chaired by Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the session adopted the IK’s first policy resolutions. They stipulated equal entitlements for Russian and Belarus citizens to either country’s medical services and vocational, secondary, higher, and postgraduate educational systems. The IK also made decisions on its operational rules and discussed the formation of a bilateral Russian-Belarusian customs union. (Itar-Tass, April 11) Also yesterday, Chernomyrdin received Belarusian parliament chairman Semyon Sharetsky, who had just signed with his Russian counterparts the agreement to create a joint legislative commission. (See Monitor, April 11)
The IK is supposed to convene fortnightly, alternating between Moscow and Minsk. Its cochairmen are Prime Ministers Chernomyrdin and Mikhail Chyhir, but the operational chairmanship will alternate between the vice-cochairmen, Deputy Prime Ministers Aleksei Bolshakov and Mikhail Myasnikovich. Presaging a cautious approach on the part of some Russian officials, Chernomyrdin said that the pace of building up the SSR would depend on "synchronizing" the two sides’ economic reforms. Other Russian officials are more inclined than Chernomyrdin to advance political unification with Belarus at the cost of Russia’s budget and reforms.
Russia Officially Repudiates Sanctions on Abkhazia.