The introduction of a single currency in the Union of Russia and Belarusbeginning January 1, 2002, will accelerate the integration of the twocountries, Russian Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin said at a briefing at thehouse of government today commenting on yesterday's negotiations betweenthe Russian and Belarusian Presidents. He pointed out that he could commenton the economic aspect of the negotiations only. "We have a serious plan ofactivities for the coordination of our economies", the Minister said andadded that Putin's proposal on introducing a single currency from January1, 2004, not 2005 as it had previously been suggested, "is a results of theactivities of experts of the Economy Ministry, the Finance Ministry and theCentral Bank of Russia". "We have worked on everything - beginning withchanges in legislation to political measures themselves, so that theintroduction of a single currency could influence the economies of bothcountries beneficially and speed up the integration process", Kudrinstressed. "It would be a pity if Belarus will not wish to accelerateeconomic integration", the Minister said..
According to a source in the Russian Defence Ministry, Russia started deploying elite commando units in eastern Libya. Russian GRU officers, mercenaries and advisors have arrived in Libya