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Russia/Belarus: Tatarstan President Doubts Union

Moscow, 14 May 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The president of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, says a political treaty between Russia and Belarus should precede the conclusion of a Union agreement between the two countries.

Shaimiev told the Interfax news agency that he still does N-O-T understand "what kind of union this will be and how it will function."

Shaimiev also expressed doubt that a union with Belarus would prove advantageous for Russia.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Valery Serov plans to chair a meeting tomorrow of the joint Russia-Belarus commission which is scheduled to sum up the results of the "public discussion" of the draft Charter of the Russia-Belarus Union.

Serov's press-secretary, Aleksandr Sapsai, said the joint commission will give its written report to the presidents of Russia and Belarus, Boris Yeltsin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka, by next Monday (May 19.) Sapsai said Lukashenka would then (May 22) travel to Moscow to agree on the final version of the Charter with Russian officials.