Meeting in the Kremlin today, Presidents Boris Yeltsin of Russia and Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus signed a Treaty of Union of the two countries and initialed a union charter defining a mechanism to implement the union. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Russia-Belarus Community, meeting concurrently, is expected to approve the treaty today. Although the final version of the treaty and thus the shape of the proposed union is not yet known in detail, the treaty is expected to mark a first stage in the gradual absorption of Belarus into Russia.
Not only the Communist-nationalist opposition, but also some Russian official circles, regard the Russia-Belarus Union as a first step toward restoring some kind of a renewed USSR. Thus, according to Krasnaya zvezda, "this is the way to start the real process of bringing together the lands of the former vast country." In a similar vein, the governmental Rossiiskie vesti attacks "some politicians who dislike a Russia-Belarus Union" out of "fear that the fraternizing may spread to other CIS countries." In a more obvious case of wishful thinking, Duma chairman Gennady Seleznev in turn stated yesterday that the Russia-Belarus Union may later be joined by other republics, probably Ukraine and Kazakstan." The rhetoric surrounding today’s event is suffused with Soviet nostalgia and pan-Slavic themes in a synthesis reminiscent of the April 2, 1996 founding of the Russia-Belarus Community by Yeltsin and Lukashenko. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, April 1-2)
U.S. Government Puzzled but not Worried About Russian Bunkers.