Belarus Asks IMF for a Rescue Loan

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 4:50 am (UTC-5)
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Belarus says it is asking the International Monetary Fund for a rescue loan to help it cope with a deepening financial crisis.

The former Soviet republic announced the request Wednesday, a day after it froze prices on some basic foods until July 1 and several days after it devalued its currency by more than a third. Neither the government nor the IMF disclosed the amount of the aid Belarus was seeking or the possible terms of the loan.

Belarus is facing growing pressure from its traditional financial sponsor, Russia, to put key state assets up for sale. But Mr. Lukashenko has said he is unwilling to cede control of his country’s most important enterprises at prices suggested by Russia.

Russia has rejected Minsk’s request for a direct loan, but says that several former Soviet republics could decide on a bailout package for Belarus by the end of this week.

The cash crisis is one of the most serious Mr. Lukashenko has faced during his nearly 17-year rule. The European Union and the United States have criticized Mr. Lukashenko for his crackdown on opposition activists after his controversial re-election in December.