Belarusian lawmakers passed ratification bill for Customs Union’s Code, sources say

A final decision on Belarus’ accession to the Customs Union of Kazakhstan and Russia will be taken by Alyaksandr Lukashenka...

Belarusian lawmakers passed the ratification bill for the Code of the Customs Union with Kazakhstan and Russia, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday evening citing sources in the National Assembly, BelaPAN reports.

The bill was approved at a closed session after the House’s final meeting that officially concluded its spring session, according to the report.

The press offices of the lower and upper parliamentary houses told BelaPAN on Thursday morning that it had “no official information” about the matter.

Two lawmakers speaking on conditions of anonymity told BelaPAN that the House indeed had held a closed session in the latter half of the day. But they refused to say whether the ratification bill had been considered.

The bill was not added to the agenda of the wrap-up plenary meeting on Wednesday when the national legislature rose for the summer recess. But the agenda featured an appeal to the head of state to call a special session of the House of Representatives, the fifth one.

A final decision on Belarus’ accession to the Customs Union of Kazakhstan and Russia will be taken by Alyaksandr Lukashenka, a governmental official told BelaPAN on Thursday, speaking on conditions of anonymity.

On Wednesday evening, Russian media outlets reported that Belarusian lawmakers had passed the ratification bill for the Union’s Code at a closed session after the House’s meeting that officially concluded its spring session.

The source told BelaPAN that the information had been “leaked by the Russian side.” “But the event does not deserve the hue and cry that has been raised,” the source said.

It does not matter whether the national legislature has passed the ratification bill, as a final decision will be anyway taken by Alyaksandr Lukashenka “based on the interests of the Belarusian people,” the official said, suggesting that the decision might be announced on July 4 or 5 when the Belarusian leader is scheduled to meet with the presidents of Kazakhstan and Russia in Astana.

Russian Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Slepnev said at a news conference in Moscow earlier in the day that the Kremlin expected the Belarusian legislature to pass the ratification bill for the Code on Wednesday.

On May 28, Kazakhstan and Russia agreed to put the Union into full-fledged operation on July 1 on a bilateral basis without Belarus. Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski boycotted the talks in St. Petersburg in protest against Russia’s export duty on crude oil supplied to the country.

The ratification bill was added to the lower chamber’s spring session agenda in the first half of June.