The Russian parliament has adopted in the first reading a bill on Russia’s territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders. Lawmakers said the legislation is needed to protect Russian territory in the face of claims by Estonia, Japan, and China. But the bill also makes provision for transfers of territory between Russia’s 89 component regions — one of the "black holes" in Russian law to date. The bill would fill the gap by allowing territorial transfers to take place as long as they are approved by not less than two-thirds of the electorate in a referendum held on the territory in question. (Itar-Tass, January 15)
Rough Ride in Minsk for Russia-Belarus Unification Plan.