Moscow, April 2 (RFE/RL) - Russia and Belarus
signed a treaty today linking their economies and political systems.
The treaty, establishing what is called the community of sovereign
republics, was signed by Russian President Boris Yeltin and Belarus
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka at a ceremony in the Kremlin
The agreement, while integrating the countries, stops short of
forming a single state.
The union will be governed by a council made up of the countries
presidents, prime ministers, and parliamentary leaders. Under the
terms of the agreement, the two countries will eventually have a
common constitution, budget and currency.
Today's signing will be followed by a transitional period of 18
months to two years, which could allow for a joint constitution to be
Both leaders have said other members of the commonwealth are welcome
to join the union. Speaking before the signing, Yeltsin said "a
historical movement has arrived in relations between the Russian
Federation and Belarus." Lukashenka described the treaty as a
"decisive step forward" in the integration process between former
Soviet republics. He stressed the treaty would not undermine the
sovereignty of the two countries or the CIS. Meanwhile, opponents of
the treaty are planning further demonstrations in the Belarus capital