Russians Support Union with Belarus

(Angus Reid Global Scan) - Many adults in the Russian Federation support forming a new partnership with a neighbouring former Soviet Republic, according to a poll by the Public Opinion Foundation. 66 per cent of respondents would in favour of a Russia-Belarus union in a referendum.

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko signed a bilateral treaty in late 1999, where the two nations agreed to eventually merge their tax systems and currencies.

In July 2005, Putin voiced his support for a proposed economic unification of the two nations, saying, "Russia needs the union. We need it in a geopolitical sense and most important of all, we are a single nation on the whole. (...) In a broad sense, we are a single nation and we will only benefit if we unite, having gained advantages in relations with other countries."

In October, a draft version of the proposed Constitutional Act of the Union State of Russia and Belarus was presented. The proposal calls for a 103-member House of Representatives-including 28 lawmakers from Belarus-and a 72-member House of the Union, with equal legislators from the two nations. 35 per cent of respondents believe Russia and Belarus should become a united state, with one president, government, flag and currency.

On Mar. 7 in Minsk, the heads of government of the two countries expressed satisfaction with bilateral relations. Belarusian prime minister Sergey Sidorski declared, "Trade turnover between Russia and Belarus grew by three-fold during ten years of integrated relations." Russian prime minister Mikhail Fradkov declared, "The growth of cooperation in the fuel and energy sector is especially impressive."

Belarus will elect a president on Mar. 19. Lukashenko is eligible for a new five-year term. Opposition candidates and supporters have repeatedly complained about harassment from the authorities, and presidential contender Aleksandr Kozulin was arrested earlier this month for allegedly "pushing a policeman" and "damaging a picture of the president at the police station."

Polling Data

If a referendum on a Russia-Belarus union was held now, would you vote for or against it?

For a union


Against a union


I would not vote


Hard to answer


Which of these unions for a Russia-Belarus union do you prefer?

Russia and Belarus should become a united state, with one president, government, flag and currency


A union of independent states with close political and economic relations


Relations between Russia and Belarus should be similar to those between other CIS states, there should be no special union


Hard to answer


Source: Public Opinion Foundation

Methodology: Interviews with 1,500 Russian adults, conducted on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26, 2006. Margin of error is 3.6 per cent.