Fewer Belarusians uphold union state with Russia

A majority of Belarusians, 54.8 percent, according to a new poll by the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research (BISS), appear to be opposed to having their country become part of a union state with the Russian Federation, Russian website reports, citing the Belarusian newspaper Solidarnost'.

Only one Belarusian in five - 20.4 percent - told pollsters that they favor having their country become part of a union state with Russia, and only one in seven - 14.4 percent - would like to see Belarus absorbed into the Russian Federation, the Gazetaby website points out.

The largest share of Belarusians - 74.1 percent, or nearly three out of four - said they want their country to be an independent state, the poll revealed.

However, the idea of having Belarus join the European Union also found notable support among those polled, with 33.5 percent of the Belarusians sampled saying that they they would like their country to become part of that European institution.

It is worth noting that, in contrast, only 13.1 percent of those polled favored having Belarus be part of a Eurasian union of any kind with Russia.

In reporting the results of the BISS survey, Solidarnast' journalist Anastasiya Zelenkova suggests that the number of Belarusians opposed to integrating with the Russian Federation will "become still greater" in light of Moscow's actions and recent statements by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Lukashenko has recently made a number of skeptical remarks regarding the union state's perspectives. In particular, at the end of May 2009, he described Russia as "unwilling" to let Belarus into the Russian market. Expressing strong doubts about the positive effects of his country's integration with Russia, he pointed out that Belarus is being forced to further develop its relationship with the West.

Commenting on the BISS opinion poll results, Belarusian social democratic leader Nikolay Statkevich suggested that the union state idea was doomed to failure. "The original idea of the two countries coexisting on a par basis does not seem to be working," Statkevich said, pointing out that a situation where Belarus and Russia do not enjoy equal rights may lead to discrimination.

The agreement to set up the Union of Belarus and Russia was signed in 1997, but a joint constitution stipulating the Union leaders' authorities and finalizing the integration process has not been adopted to this day.



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