Charhinets: Constitutional Act kept in Moscow

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Vadzim Papow, chairman of the House of
Representatives, said last week that a draft Constitutional Act of
the Russian-Belarusian
Union State
has been finalized and will be submitted to the two countries' leaders for
consideration on November 3.

Mikalay Charhinets, a member of Belarus' upper
parliamentary chamber, the Council of the Republic, said the document poses no
threat to the country's independence.

"Article 1 of the Constitutional Act
provides that the sides retain full independence, territorial integrity and all
attributes such as the symbol, anthem and flag, as well as membership of all
international organizations, including the UN," he told Euroradio.

Although the draft has been finalized it is
still unclear who will govern the so-called Union State.

"The question remains open just like the
banking matters and the single currency issue," Charhinets noted.
"The draft is kept in Moscow
in the working group. They would not show it because this may a 20th
version that will spark an unnecessary discussion of something that has not
been clarified yet."

Charhinets stressed that the draft would not
allow for the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus. He said that it would take
effect only if the Belarusians and Russians approve it at a referendum.

Political analyst Yury Shautsou is confident
that the act would not endanger Belarus'
independence. "If it is based on the Union State Treaty, Belarus would benefit in terms of independence
from Russia.
Our relations with Russia
are built in a way that we have many lobbyist groups in Russia that
advance Belarusian interests. If Belarus
gets more legal political opportunities to assert its interests with the help
of the Union State, it would be better," he
explained.

He added that the Constitutional Act is likely
to commit Belarus to place
its air defenses under Russia's
command and recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia
as independent states.

Stanislaw Shushkevich, former Belarusian
parliamentary speaker who put his signature under the treaty dissolving the
Soviet Union, argues that the act is a direct threat to Belarus as an
independent nation.

"This is yet another step to end Belarus'
independence. But I should stress that this country has neither a legitimate president
nor a legitimate parliament. All these acts do not matter for the international
community and the international law," he told Euroradio.

Shushkevich is concerned about the possibility
of Russia deploying nuclear
weapons to Belarus.
"Belarus
is a nuclear-free zone. This has been codified in a number of international
agreements. It would be a very aggressive move by our neighbour to try to site
nuclear weapons here. There is no bigger threat to Belarus."

Meanwhile, politicians and analysts alike agree
that a deal is a way off. The paper may be shelved or considerably watered down
like other union acts.