Belarus is preparing for new loans
According to the Finance Ministry, on March 31st, Belarus repaid USD 75.9 million to the IMF – the last part of the loan. Having fulfilled all her obligations vis-a-vis the IMF, Belarus gained a positive prospect for new borrowings from international lending institutions. Belarus is unlikely to sign a new programme with the IMF before elections, however she will continue to cooperate with the EurAsEC ACF, will use Chinese loans for industrial modernisation, and will appeal to international creditors to refinance the Eurobond issue maturing in 2015. If there is no sufficient funding from Russia, Belarus might embark on reforming the economy, which will give a start to a new program of cooperation with the IMF in 2016.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.