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Union without Dictator
By Alexey Melnikov
November 2 1999

Yabloko advocates the integration of Russia and Byelarus, provided that the statehood and constitution of each of the two countries involved are preserved, that neither fraternal nation incurs any economic loss and human rights are constantly observed, pursuant to universally recognized principles and norms.

Yabloko considers it extremely important to conclude a serious Treaty on Economic Union between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Byelarus and proposes a corresponding draft treaty, including 20 special economic supplements, that was published and submitted to Boris Yeltsin and Alexander Lukashenko in 1997. Yabloko's draft Treaty on Economic Union is an accessible document: it is published on Yabloko's site on the Internet (http://www.yabloko.ru).

Unfortunately, at present neither the leadership of Belarus or Russia are ready to conduct serious negotiations on the signing of a definitive Treaty on Economic Union. They simply discuss a document with vague wording. Alexander Lukashenko needs all this fanfare simply to demonstrate (without yielding any of his dictatorial rule in Byelarus) to the Byelorussian population that its powerful neighbour Russia backs him.

At the same time, we should bear in mind that the five-year presidential term of Alexander Lukashenko expired long ago (on July 20 1999) and that there is no legitimate parliament in the republic at present either. In view of all these facts we may assert that the unlawful regime in Republic of Byelarus constitutes the main obstacle to real integration of our countries. Any international treaties signed by Lukashenko after July 20 1999 have no legal force.

We would like to stress that Yabloko absolutely rejects the use of force by political extremists from Byelorussian nationalistic opposition in their struggle against Lukashenko. We consider it necessary for negotiations between Alexander Lukashenko and the opposition to conduct nation-wide elections.

In addition, Yabloko believes that the Russian leadership must maintain contacts in Byelarus not only with Alexandre Lukashenko, but also with other political forces that may be interested in economic integration with Russia. The time has come to find new political partners in Byelarus, who should replace Alexander Lukashenko.

A capricious and two-faced individual, who is almost totally disinterested in economic integration with Russia, the dictator Alexander Lukashenko must not be Russia's single partner in Byelarus. As Russia virtually sponsors the economy of Byelarus, such an approach would inflict no harm on Russia's foreign policy - Lukashenko is doomed to move in the fairway of Russia's foreign policy. The Yabloko faction believes that Russia must demand that Lukashenko conduct open and honest presidential and parliamentary elections in the Republic of Byelarus


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