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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Integration Pacts Passed By Duma

The State Duma on Friday ratified two pacts designed to step up integration between Russia and three other former Soviet republics.

The Duma, dominated by communists and conservatives keen to revive the defunct Soviet Union in some way, voted overwhelmingly to endorse a treaty of integration signed among Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan on March 29.

It also ratified an April 2 deal between Russia and Slav neighbor Belarus, which envisages tighter integration and the creation of supranational bodies within the framework of a new two-way alliance.

The Russia-Belarus pact, welcomed by governments in both countries, has been taken by nationalist groups in Belarus as a sign of reviving Russian imperialism.

Liberals in Moscow have criticized it as a potential threat to Russian economic reform because Belarus, ruled by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, has lagged far behind Russia in transforming a centrally planned economy.

President Boris Yeltsin, trying to steal ideas from his communist and nationalist rivals in Russia's June 16 presidential election, has pushed the idea of integration among former Soviet republics as a way to win electoral points.

He trails Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov in opinion polls.