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Will Lukashenka Or Won't He?

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) meets with his Belarus counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Gorky on June 11.
All eyes are on Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka as he and his Russian and Kazakh counterparts prepare for a July 5 meeting in Astana to kick off a customs union.

Belarus has squawked a lot and balked at a unified code to steer the group. Then this week, Minsk hiked its transit fees on Russian oil in a gambit ahead of the gathering.

If Lukashenka doesn't sign on to the customs union, his chances of long-term political survival just might plummet; if he does, he bolsters his prospects for political longevity but likely sacrifices some of his influence.

So will he or won't he?

-- Andy Heil

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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