President Vladimir Putin will travel to Belarus Thursday to revive efforts to create a single state from the two former Soviet nations, a trip that could expand Putin's options after he steps down as president next year.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Putin tries to speed up a union with Belarus ... to become the president of the unified state," Gennady Zyuganov, Russia's Communist Party chief, said this week.
If the two countries can reach an agreement, it would mark the first merger of a former Soviet state with Russia since the USSR split apart in 1991 - a step that would make many Russians proud.
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