Belarusian government predicts zero GDP growth
Due to a further fall in oil prices and the revision of the basic socio-economic development forecast in Russia for 2016, Belarus’ socio-economic forecast for 2016 will be revised too. The main scenario envisaged RUB rate against the US Dollar at RUB 63 per USD 1 and the average oil price at USD 50 per barrel. In early 2016, the Russian rouble already depreciated against the USD beyond the prediction. In the given circumstances, budget revenues are expected to shrink significantly, the cost of public debt servicing will grow and due to the recession in Russia, Belarusian economy in 2016 is unlikely to grow at 0.3% of 2015 GDP. Simultaneously, if the forecast is amended to negative economic growth in 2016, this would mean that the current economic model in Belarus is ineffective. Hence, the government is likely to predict zero growth in 2016, which eventually will not be implemented.
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.