December 16 – December 22, 2019
The ruling elite

Law enforcers attempt to moderate protests; the government takes a loan from China to relax social tension

The situation has not changed
Law enforcers attempt to moderate protests; the government takes a loan from China to relax social tension

The Belarusian government is having a hard time servicing public debt; a half-a-billion U.S. Dollars loan from China would prevent the financial system from destabilization. Authorities seek to relax social tension through social facilities’ construction and by occasionally siding with the population in conflicts with local officials. Law enforcers seek to relax protest moods through a combination of bans, fines, administrative arrests and preventive talks.

On December 16th, 2019 Belarus signed off a general loan agreement with China amounting some USD 500 million. These funds would be spent on servicing public debt and replace a USD 600 million loan, which Belarus aspired for, from Russia.

The government, not having enough in reserve, is experiencing difficulties with servicing external debts. Moreover, due to political restrictions on altering economic policies, it has no plans on how to ensure economic growth, which would solve the debt issue in the future. That said, there is growing pessimism among the business community regarding Belarus’ economic prospects. The Supreme Court has attempted to restrict arbitrary practices of the tax authorities in relation to business, however, its attempts are unlikely to lead to tangible results.

The Belarusian authorities are attempting to relax tension in society by addressing cornerstone issues voiced during the parliamentary campaign. The President has approved the 2020 public investment programme worth BYN 581. Among other things, this programme aims to ensure the commissioning of social facilities, such as kindergartens, schools, medical clinics and hospitals. In addition, the Health Minister has revealed plans to re-equip health institutions in 2020.

During the parliamentary elections, many candidates also pointed to the unjustifiably widespread practice of using administrative liability by state bodies. The prosecutor’s office has revealed violations against minors.

Moreover, the authorities attempt to shift some responsibility for solving such and economic issues onto local authorities, without, however, providing them with additional opportunities for doing so.

Law enforcers aim to moderate protests without using brute force, instead, resorting to a combination of prohibitions, fines, administrative arrests and preventive talks.

Author: Valeriya Kostyugova

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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