Belarussian President demands guarantees from Russia

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko believes Moscow should give his country guarantees in the introducing of the Russian ruble as the single currency. "So far, Russia is providing only verbal guarantees," Lukashenko said on Monday.

To him, equal prices and free markets on the territory of the two states are required first of all. Russia objects to that and the Belarussian leader cannot decide on the introduction of a single currency "without knowing what this may mean for Belarus." "It may find itself without money, wages and pensions" if the single currency agreement is concluded before the economic and financial matters have been settled, he is afraid.

"The new Russian leadership does not want to follow the path we chose eight to nine years ago (under Yeltsin)," Lukashenko said.

On Monday Russian Vice-Premier and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said in Moscow that the time of concluding the Russian-Belarussian single currency agreement depends on the Belarussian side and Moscow is ready to sign it.

Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message to the Belarussian president proposing signing the agreement in the near time.

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