( RIA Novosti ) - Belarus will soon announce a tender for the construction of its first nuclear power plant, the prime minister said Friday.
"The amount of finance will be determined shortly, and a tender will be announced," Sergei Sidorsky said after a ministerial Russia-Belarus union session in Moscow, adding a potential construction site was already being selected.
Belarusian officials have said that Russia and France are the likeliest partners in the project, envisioning the commissioning of the first unit in 2013-2014, and the second in 2015, their total capacity being 1,000 megawatts. Another two units are to be put into operation by 2025.
Russia has traditionally been Belarus' closest ally, whose leadership has become increasingly isolated in the West over clampdowns on civil and political freedoms.
The ex-Soviet neighbors declared their intention to build a Union State, with a common economic, customs, and political space, in 1997. But the process has been largely stalled over a host of issues, including disagreement on a common currency, taxation, as well as energy-pricing disputes.
President Alexander Lukashenko has been pushing to build a Belarusian NPP in a bid to cut dependence on Russian energy supplies, despite resistance to the project from some groups in the country, heavily affected by the devastating Chernobyl NPP disaster in neighboring Ukraine in 1986.