Minsk, 21 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says that proposals by Russian President Vladimir Putin to integrate Belarus into the Russian Federation "are offensive and unacceptable." During talks today in Minsk with Daghestani State Council Chairman Magomedali Magomedov, Lukashenka said that even Soviet leaders "(Vladimir) Lenin and (Josef) Stalin did not go so far as trying to dissolve Belarus and making it a part of the Russian Socialist Republic or the USSR."
Lukashenka said that Belarus and Russia could make an "excellent union," but this will require a "will and desire to move forward to an equal union."
Earlier this month, Putin suggested to Lukashenka that Belarus be incorporated into the Russian Federation and adopt the Russian Constitution.
Until 1991, Belarus was part of the Soviet Union, having been incorporated into the Russia-dominated state since the October revolution. Before that, Belarus was part of the Russian Empire.