Russian energy price hikes cost Belarus 14 percent of GDP
According to an article in the February 9 edition of Izvestia, the Belarusian economy appears to have lost $5 billion in de-facto subsidies from energy price hikes by Russia this January. This estimate, sourced to Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko himself, is greater than previous estimates which had ranged from $3.5 billion to $4 billion. The latest figure of $5 billion is equivalent to just over 14 percent of gross domestic product. The article also quoted Russian president Vladimir Putin as saying that even after the January round of price hikes, Russia would be subsidising the Belarusian economy this year to the tune of $5.8 billion or, he said, 41 percent of state budget revenues. Bearing all this in mind, the extent of the crisis in Belarus should be obvious. Lukashenko has made economic stability a cornerstone of regime propoganda. Given that he is now going to find it very difficult to sustain his credibility as a leader who provides for his people, Lukashenko is now entering a new and dangerous period of rule.
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