Post-Soviet Republics To Unite Again

Several Russian politicians believe that the USSR will be restored by 2007

It seems that the company spirit of the Russian nation is really strong: Russian people always have wish to unite with someone. So does the leadership of the country. Presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan ordered to conduct the first meeting of the Group of high level for the issues of forming the joint economic space. Russia will be represented at the meeting by Vice Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko. As the vice prime minister believes, the joint economic space ideology comprises four degrees of freedom: freedom of the commodity market, freedom of services, capitals and labor force.

The presidents of the four countries announced their readiness to set up the joint economic space on February 23rd in Moscow. The final goal of the agreement is to establish the Regional Integration Organization. It was ordered to develop the agreement by September of the current year. This document stipulates the development of the coordinated economic policy on several directions, the balance of adequate laws, and the creation of the joint independent committee for trade and tariffs.

Russia has already announced that the joint economic space will be open for other countries to join it. Nikolay Ryzhkov, the President of the Russian and International union of commodity producers, proposed “to start the formation of the joint economic space with the organization of the food exchange – most important goods for people.” As it is mentioned in a special statement, “the implementation of the mentioned program will definitely assist in the rise of the agricultural production; it will also provide the food safety for every country.”

As it is well known, the current attempt to set up the post-Soviet economic association is not the first one. Back in March of 1996, the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia signed an agreement to deepen the integration in the economic and humanitarian fields. The document should have helped to create the joint economic space in the four countries, to provide favorable conditions for economic development there and to set up the mechanism for the mutual strengthening of political and social and economic structures. The leaders of the mentioned four countries have conducted several meetings since that time, discussing different variants for establishing the joint economic space. However, the project melted away itself.

Since Russia failed to create something good with its neighbors, the government of the country raised another issue. In 2001 Russia started talking about a higher level of integration. It was decided during Russia-EU summit in May of 2001 to set up a committee “of a high level for the elaboration of suggestions pertaining to the establishment of the joint European economic space.” As it was said in the statement, Russia and the European Union agreed upon studying the issue of using euro in its trading and economic relations.

In July of 2001, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov offered the European Union to build the joint economic space together with Russia. The prime minister pointed out that the solution of that issue solely depended on the enthusiasm of European Union countries. However, European countries were not enthusiastic about it, while the issue of the Russian Kaliningrad enclave pushed the idea of the joint economic space into the background.

The today’s integration system is more humble. The republic of Kyrgyzstan is no longer on the list, but there is Ukraine there now instead. However, Ukraine is the country, which is peculiar for its maximum resistance against integration suggestions. Prior to the session of the Group of high level, the Ukrainian parliament sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich. In the letter, Ukrainian deputies asked for an explanation of circumstances, at which presidents of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed the statement pertaining to the creation of the joint economic space. As Ukrainian deputies claimed, that question had not been publicly discussed in the country, so a suggestion like that could not be upheld.

What will the new commonwealth look like, if it is eventually established? Pavel Borodin, the Secretary of the Unified State of Russia and Belarus assumed that the new commonwealth might resemble the USSR. As he stated the USSR might be restored again by the year 2007: “The Soviet Union was an objective reality. Almost the whole post-Soviet space might be retrieved in the nearest future,” stated Borodin.

According to the recent poll, which was conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation, Russian people support the idea to integrate. As Russians believe, Russia should establish a joint state with Belarus – 35% of respondents, Ukraine – 28%, Kazakhstasn – 11%, and Moldavia – 9%. Eighteen percent of respondents believe that Russia is not supposed to unite with any country of the Commonwealth. According to the poll that was conducted in December, 32% of Russians would support the unification of several republics in closer unions, 23% would support the restoration of the USSR, while 15% would stand for a closer unification of republics on the base of the EU principle. Yet, thirteen percent of the population stands for the preservation of the Commonwealth of Independent States in the way it exists today. Twelve percent favors the idea of independent existence for all republics.

As far as the attitude to post-Soviet leaders is concerned, 32% of Russians sympathize with Alexander Lukashenko, the incumbent President of Belarus, 20% like Nursultan Nazarbayev, the incumbent President of Kazakhstan, while seven percent prefer Vladimir Voronin, the President of Moldavia. Russian people dislike Eduard Shevardnadze most of all (the Georgian President) – 44%. Twenty-four percent dislike Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

MiK News Agency


Translated by Dmitry Sudakov