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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Council Approves CIS Plan

The Council of Leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States approved a plan Friday on "integral development" in the 12-nation bloc over the next two years, including greater cooperation in fighting organized crime and preparing for the introduction of a common currency.

At a news conference after a one-day meeting in Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin hailed what he called a cooperative spirit among CIS government leaders. He said that "in the ideal," he saw the commonwealth becoming by 1998 "the same sort [of bloc] as the present relations between Russia and Belarus," Itar-Tass reported.

A Russia-Belarus treaty signed last week integrated the two more deeply than any other former Soviet republics that make up the CIS. Chernomyrdin said none of the delegations at Friday's congress criticized the treaty, or a separate four-nation accord that groups Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Russian Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov announced that the council had approved an intergovernmental program for fighting organized crime in the CIS, including an accord on battling so-called economic crimes.

Kulikov said the agreements "have enormous significance, because it is clear not only to experts, but also to residents of CIS countries, that crime has taken on a transnational character," Itar-Tass reported.

Chernomyrdin said trade within the CIS must be a priority for all member states. He cited figures showing trade between Russia and other CIS countries rose 6 percent in 1996, and was expected to rise 15 percent in 1997.

"Everyone understands the necessity of introducing a freely convertible currency into the budgets of the commonwealth, but it would hardly be appropriate to resolve this question at the expense of lowering deliveries to the CIS countries," he said.