Chinese loans unlikely to become popular in Belarus
Belarusbank will use a loan from China’s State Development Bank to support projects in Belarus. The loan has a five-year grace period for deferred payment. However, due to high interest rate (6% + 6 months Libor rate) only few projects would be implemented. Implementation of the projects will be accompanied by growth in imports from China, due to the 50% Chinese component requirement. In addition, Belarus would try to attract other investors to the ‘Great Stone’ technological part in order to demonstrate favourable investment climate in the country. Meanwhile, Belarusian private sector is likely to apply for untied loans at a higher interest rate, which would not require compulsory imports of Chinese goods and services.
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.