MINSK, Belarus–The powerful Soviet Union may still exist after all — at least on paper.
Former Belarusian leader Stanislav Shushkevich says a historic 1991 document that proclaimed the death of the Soviet Union is missing from the archives.
Shushkevich discovered that the document was gone while working on his memoirs. He said he believes it was stolen — possibly by a former Belarusian official — probably with the intention of selling it to a collector.
“It’s hard to believe the disappearance of a document at such a level, but this is a fact,” Shushkevich told The Associated Press.
Officials with Belarus’ government and the Russia-dominated alliance of ex-Soviet nations confirmed late Wednesday that they only have copies.
“We don’t know where the original is,” said Vasily Ostreiko, the head of the archive department of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which has its headquarters in Minsk, the Belarusian capital. “We have a copy of that document. It’s certified in line with international standards, but it’s still a copy.”