Russia to support Belarus with $500 mn in credit

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Russia to support Belarus with $500 mn in credit
Moscow:  Russia will support Belarus with $500 million in credit over the coming weeks, the leaders of the two countries have agreed.

During a meeting in Sochi on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his visiting Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko agreed the sum would be paid out by the end of June, dpa news agency quoted Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying.

This is the second tranche of a credit package that was agreed before the controversial forced landing of a passenger aeroplane in Minsk on May 23 in order to arrest a dissident blogger, Roman Protasevich, and his partner Sofia Sapega.

During their meeting, Putin and Lukashenko spoke about trade and economic cooperation, Peskov said.

Belarus’ economy is weak, and it has already borrowed billions of dollars from Moscow.

During the opening of the meeting, both leaders complained about pressure from Western countries on Belarus.

After the incident with the plane, the Ryanair commercial flight between Athens and Vilnius that was forced to reroute and land in Minsk, the European Union (EU) and the US imposed fresh sanctions on Belarus, which the Kremlin slammed as an emotional reaction.

Peskov emphasized that the fate of Sapega, who is a Russian national, mattered to the Russian authorities, but said the 23-year-old had a residency permit in Belarus.

Meanwhile President of the EU Parliament, David Sassoli, said he wants to keep up pressure Belarus in order secure the release of the blogger and his girlfriend.

Sassoli suggested that photos of Protassevich be exhibited at all airports in the EU and in the European Parliament.

“We will keep the attention and the pressure up and hope that this will lead to the release of Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega,” he said in remarks to Germany’s Funke media group.

Sassoli called the EU’s initial reaction to the forced landing of a passenger jet in Minsk as “strong and unified”.


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