Belarus’ foreign trade deficit will exceed USD 2.5 billion in 2015
According to the National Statistics Committee, in January - October 2015, foreign trade deficit totalled USD 2.1 billion. Compared with 2014, the situation has somewhat improved due to a decline in imports of capital goods and lower energy prices. However, the deficit might increase up to USD 2.5 billion by the year-end due to reduced exports of potash and nitrogen fertilizers. Russia’s ban on vegetables from Turkey is unlikely to remedy the situation, as Russia will tighten control of all fruits and vegetables, supplied via Belarus. In addition, she may restrict Belarusian dairy products on the Russian market. A further decline in prices for oil and oil products may hit Belarus’ exports with a monthly loss up to USD 2 billion.
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.