On Friday, Russia’s Duma voted by a large majority to ask Boris Yeltsin to submit a plan for Russia-Belarus integration to both of the Russian Federal Assembly’s chambers. The resolution includes a request that Yeltsin empower an official delegation to hold talks with Belarus on legislative foundations and control mechanisms for integration. After these moves, a decision will be taken on putting the matter to a popular vote, the resolution said. (3)
The Duma´s intiative is meant to add substance to the Federation Council’s resolution earlier this month to hold a referendum in Russia on accelerating Russia-Belarus integration. Duma hardliners who have long advocated the reincorporation of Belarus have dismissed the Federation Council’s resolution as a self-serving election-season ploy. The Duma’s CIS affairs committee chairman Konstantin Zatulin, who inspired the Duma’s follow-on resolution, wanted and got a far more specific document which hardliners in the coming Duma will be able to invoke and build on.
Shortly before the Duma’s vote, Belarus Supreme Soviet chairman Mechislau Hrib attacked the Russian Federation Council’s resolution for ignoring the Belarus constitution. Moreover, "such rash actions which do not consider the other side’s opinion may only lead to negative consequences for both nations," he said. (4) Top government officials in Belarus, including president Lukashenko have been cool to reabsorption by Russia, but Hrib’s resistance to it is the most clearcut within the official establishment.
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