Belarus Reintroduces Checkpoints At Border With Russia

Belarus has recently reintroduced checkpoints at its border with Russia, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reported on June 14. The checkpoints are manned by officers from the Interior Ministry and the State Customs Committee.

Alyaksandr Herasimau from the Interior Ministry told RFE/RL that the reestablishment of checkpoints is a temporary measure intended to regulate cargo shipments. "The point is that any shipment of goods subject to excise tax that enters Belarusian territory or goes in transit must be escorted. But escorting is a paid service," Herasimau said, explaining that his ministry charges some $500 for escorting a cargo shipment from Belarus's border with Russia to that with Poland.

Belarusian economic expert Yaraslau Ramanchuk believes that the reintroduction of checkpoints on the Belarusian-Russian frontier reflects a new trend in bilateral relations. "It is a plan to gradually build customs controls on our eastern border. It is Minsk's preparation for [an anticipated] conflict with Moscow regarding oil and gas," Ramanchuk told RFE/RL. In 1995, Belarus and Russia signed a customs union that eliminated customs controls along their joint border. JM