Belarus to allocate budget funds to solve gas payments issue
JSC Gazpromtransgaz Belarus has filed a lawsuit in the International Arbitration Court at the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce against the Belarusian gas suppliers. Since early 2016, arrears for fuel and energy supplies to enterprises has increased by 2.2 times and reached BYR 1.6 trillion. The debt has accumulated due to late payments by the key economic sectors, industry and agriculture. The state is set to allocate budgetary funds to repay current and overdue payments for energy. Chronic debtors will receive payment schedules and penalties will not be applied. Energy sector will be subjected to a comprehensive assessment in terms of current expenditure in order to find reserves to reduce prices for final consumers. Belarus is likely to delay payments for gas supplies and drag out the trial in order to put pressure on Russia in negotiations over natural gas cost reductions for Belarus.
Following crackdown and arrests of participants in the spring protests, the authorities resumed arrests as punishment for participating in street protests in addition to fines, which for some time were the only punishment for political activity. On September 22nd, 2017, the riot police detained the Belarusian National Congress leader Nikolai Statkevich, the opposition politician was placed in detention centre on Akrestin street. On the same day, after serving seven days of arrest, another BNC leader, Vladimir Neklyaev, was released. He was sentenced for organising a street protest on September 8th against the West-2017 exercises. Other participants in the protest have been fined too. The authorities are likely to continue to use fines and arrests against political activists to punish for their protest activity.