21:09 GMT +324 February 2018
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    Fewer Belarusians want integration with Russia after gas dispute - Lukashenko

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    Fewer Belarusians support further integration with Russia after the recent gas dispute between the neighbors, Belarusian President Alexander Luskashenko said on Tuesday.

    Fewer Belarusians support further integration with Russia after the recent gas dispute between the neighbors, Belarusian President Alexander Luskashenko said on Tuesday.

    "Belarusians have started being watchful of our closest ally Russia and have begun to expect more unpredictable blows from it," Lukashenko said in his letter to Pavel Borodin, State Secretary of the Union State of Russia and Belarus.

    In the mid-1990s, Moscow and Minsk formed the Union State of Russia and Belarus, a loose political entity of the two ex-Soviet states. But after President Lukashenko had rejected several Russian unification proposals, including the introduction of a common currency, the union remains largely on paper.

    The November 2009 agreement between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to create a customs union has dealt another serious blow to the Union State project.

    In his letter, Lukashenko also criticized the Russian leadership for "evaluating brotherly ties in cubic meters of gas and barrels of oil."

    The Belarusian president said the gas row with Gazprom over Belarus' refusal to pay Russian-set prices for gas was "only a part of [Russia's] unfriendly policies towards Belarus in the past years."

    Last year relations between Belarus and Russia, which have been trying for about a decade to establish a Union State, were strained over a series of economic and political disputes, including Russian energy supplies, a milk export row and Lukashenko's reluctance to sign a deal to set up a post-Soviet rapid reaction force.

    The relations were further strained this year by Minsk's reluctance to join the customs union with Russia and Kazakhstan and the refusal to extradite deposed Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who is accused of ordering to shoot civilians during April riots.

    MINSK / MOSCOW, June 29 (RIA Novosti) 

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