Pulling the Plug on Lukashenko
WASHINGTON, DC – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is a master of political survival. But, following a recent 64% devaluation of the currency, the clock appears to be running out on his prolonged misrule.
Lukashenko was forced by the removal of Russian oil-price subsidies in 2009 to beg, borrow, or steal enough funds to keep Belarus’s economy from collapsing. He tricked the International Monetary Fund into extending a $3.4 billion loan, promising freer elections in December 2010 – only to burn that bridge with a brutal crackdown when faced with an adverse election result and the largest protests his regime had ever seen.
Now Russia has taken a harder line, demanding a high price for loans that are, in any case, insufficient to save the regime. As a result, the Belarusian economy is in free-fall, and Lukashenko’s days appear to be numbered.