Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 74

Russian deputy prime minister Alfred Kokh says the projected union of Russia and Belarus is unworkable. "Any union that is declared to be an international legal entity and whose members have their own currencies, central banks, armies, and presidents is not, in my view, viable," he told Russian TV on April 13. Kokh cited the fact that each of the two countries would retain its freedom to sign agreements with a third country. Belarus might, for example, sign a customs union with Ukraine, Kokh said, and Russia would as a result be flooded with Ukrainian goods "free of duty, licenses, and any kind of border control." Kokh is a close associate of First Deputy Premier Anatoly Chubais. His statement underlines the fact that the Russia-Belarus union has enemies in very high places in Moscow. (RTR, April 13)

Italian Journalist Released.