Belarus and Russia to mark Unity Day with several events
A number of events are expected to be held in Minsk and Moscow on April 2 to celebrate Belarusian-Russian Unity Day.
The events will include concerts at the Moscow State Popular Music Theater and the Belarusian State Philharmonic Hall in Minsk.
On April 2, 1996, Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first president, signed an agreement on the formation of the Belarusian-Russian Community. After a year, on April 2, 1997, the two leaders signed an accord that transformed the Community into a Union. On December 8, 1999, Messrs. Lukashenka and Yeltsin signed the Treaty on the Formation of the Union State of Belarus and Russia.
Belarusian-Russian Unity Day is a state holiday in Belarus but still a working day.
Most Belarusians are either unaware of the holiday or skeptical about it.
Ryhor Kastusyow, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front, told BelaPAN that the Union State had been formed on the initiative of Mr. Lukashenka because he wanted to "move to Moscow and become the president of the Union State."
"After the election of Vladimir Putin as president, Lukashenka's pipe dream became impossible to fulfill," said Mr. Kastusyow, who ran in the 2010 presidential election. "The authorities are paying less and less attention to this holiday and will eventually remove it from the calendar."
Relations between countries can be strong only if they are developed from the bottom up, Mr. Kastusyow stressed. "You will never succeed if you try to impose friendship on people from above," he said.