President Vladimir Putin called to remove surviving commercial and other economic barriers as he was addressing spokesmen of Southern academic and entrepreneurial circles at the Rice University. He described those barriers as Cold War aftermath, and said that progress would be much easier with that burden discarded. Spectacular among those barriers is the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment, which long deprived of practical effects. Though the US Administration renders it harmless with annual prolongations of Russia's best-favoured nation status, it survives as symbol of confrontation. Russia has made strides to removing the obstacles, and looks forward to similar strides by the US Administration and to private business supporting it. The President mentioned long-established active bilateral aerospace and petroleum partnership, and pointed out the international space station--85% Russian-US project. Russia is strengthening the legal basis of production-sharing contracts to make oil investment ever more lucrative. The latter point concerns not only American corporate investment in Russia but Russian investment in joint ventures, stressed Mr. Putin.
As November 4 approaches (on this day, Russia and Belarus are to sign union programs), disputes between supporters and opponents of the integration become increasingly heated