During Wednesday’s online conference, Belarusian Ambassador to Russia Uladzimir Syamashka raised the subject of the two countries’ deepening integration.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing election campaign in Belarus, the issue seemed to have been put off the agenda.
“I must remind that the presidents of our countries agreed at the end of 2018 in the Kremlin that the Union State of Russia and Belarus would definitely be in place. And it should develop, not only ‘be’. Therefore, they took a firm decision that the treaty signed on 8 December, 1999 is a normal agreement and we must fully implement it,” the envoy said.
According to him, the Union State is facing strong challenges, i.e. introducing a single tax law, a single customs code, a single currency with a single emission centre. In spite of differences, the two countries should act as one, Syamashka believes.
Amid the reports about deepening the integration of Belarus and Russia, a numberof peaceful rallies were held in Minsk and regions in December. Although Alyaksandr Lukashenka repeatedly expressed his readiness to uphold the independence of the country, the rubber-stamping Belarusian courts slapped fines on about 60 persons who took up to the streets voicing their protest in view of a growing threat to the sovereignty of Belarus. Officially, the protesters were tried for ‘participating in unauthorised mass events’ (Art. 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). The total sum of the penalties amounted to 55,000 Belarusian rubles (appr. $27,000).
After the March’s start of the coronavirus epidemic, the leaders of Belarus and Russia have not publicly raised the integration issues. To date, the road maps remain unsigned.
In April, Uladzimir Syamashka said that there were prerequisites for a new consideration of previously prepared documents on the deepening of Belarusian-Russian integration.