Saturday 29th May 2021
Another 500 million
Lukashenko gets his Putin loan
The Belarusian ruler Lukashenko and Russia’s President Putin meet on the Black Sea. The former is under pressure because of sanctions following the forced landing of an airplane with the following imprisonment of a regime critic. The latter can take some pressure off with money.
Russia wants to support the authoritarian-led Belarus with a loan of 500 million US dollars by the end of June. That was agreed at a meeting between Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, according to the Interfax agency. It is the second tranche of a loan that was decided on last Sunday before the forced landing of a passenger plane in Minsk, which was heavily criticized internationally. The US had previously imposed new sanctions on Belarus.
In the coming weeks, punitive measures against nine state-owned companies will come into force again, announced US President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki. The United States announced that it was preparing targeted sanctions against “key figures in the regime” in consultation with the EU and other partners. The US State Department also issued a travel warning for the former Soviet republic. The American aviation authority FAA warned airlines to exercise “extreme caution” when flying over Belarus (formerly: Belarus).
Kremlin spokesman for Protassevich’s girlfriend
The EU had already agreed on new sanctions on Monday. She also promised Belarus a three billion euro support package. However, it should only be activated when the country has “initiated a democratic transition”. Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said on WDR that the next goal was a “list of those responsible who organized this piracy”. In addition, they continue to work on economic sanctions.
The confrontation between Belarus and the West had come to a head when Lukashenko had a Ryanair passenger plane brought to the ground last Sunday in order to arrest one of his opponents. The blogger Roman Protassewitsch has been in custody since then, as has his friend Sofia Sapega, a Russian.
Russia “does not care about Sapega’s fate,” said Kremlin spokesman Peskov. At the same time, he emphasized that the 23-year-old was a Russian citizen, but had a residence permit in Belarus.
Lukashenko had flown to Putin in Sochi on the Black Sea under the pressure of the latest sanctions. According to the Kremlin, the talks were mainly about trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. Belarus is economically badly hit and is already in the chalk with Moscow with billions.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya, who fled to the EU country Lithuania, called for solidarity with Protassevich, Sapega and other political prisoners. All over the world people gathered for rallies, including in Berlin.