Fuel prices in Belarus to beat those in Russia

April 17, 2017 13:10

Belneftekhim concern has calculated that the optimal fuel price on the domestic market should be the price in the Russian Smolensk region plus 5-10%. In March 2017 alone, fuel prices in Belarus increased five times by BYN 0.01 due to the need to modernise refinery and reduce the oil-refining margin amid a decrease in oil supplies in Q1 2017. Fuel prices are likely to continue to increase until they beat those at petrol stations in the Russian regions bordering Belarus. Belarusian refineries are likely to improve financial health. Belarus is unlikely to sell less fuel on the domestic market due to higher fuel prices, however transport costs at enterprises would increase, leading to a possible hike in the tariffs for road transport in Belarus. Fuel prices in Belarus do not depend on the world prices, if need, the government would agree to a further increase in fuel prices to fill the country's budget.

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Belarusian authorities manoeuvre between repression and liberalization to retain dialogue with Western capitals
May 22, 2017 13:36
Фота: Еўрарадыё

Yet Minsk has not decided on the "patriots' case" and is attempting to break new grounds in relations with the West. Meanwhile, Brussels is ready to lower cooperation levels with the Belarusian authorities in anticipation of new political prisoners to appear after the trial against former White Legion activists, irrelevant of the charges, either preparation for riots, or creation of illegal armed groups, or any other. Minsk is unlikely to cross the red line in bilateral relations with the West and new political prisoners are unlikely to appear in Belarus.

The harsh clampdown on protests and arrests this spring in Belarus are unlikely to lead to new moves by the European Union, however, the EU would closely monitor ‘some investigations’, including the ‘patriot’s case’ aka the ‘White Legion’ case.

According to human rights defenders, 17 people remain in custody, of which 16 are former members of the White Legion and one supporter of Statkevich-led the Belarusian National Committee, Sergei Kuntsevich. The law enforcement has been releasing former activists of the White Legion and members of the Patriot Club, most likely in order to mitigate criticism from Western capitals. Amid Minsk Dialogue expert conference with the participation of Belarusian and EU officials, the authorities released from custody head of the Bobruisk "Patriot" Club Nikolai Mikhalkov. In addition, the Belarusian leadership expects to ease some tension by demonstrating greater openness to a dialogue with civil society on human rights issues. For instance, for the first time the Belarusian authorities and human rights defenders held consultations on Belarus’ fifth periodic report to the UN Human Rights Committee.

The Belarusian leadership has attempted to mitigate the West’s attitude towards the criminal prosecution against former activists of the "White Legion" by adding charges of creating an ‘illegal armed formation’ to ‘preparing for mass riots’ charges.

Apparently, Minsk also gains from speculations about possible disagreements among the executives - supporters of stronger ties with Russia, and "pro-Western" reformists lead by Foreign Minister Makei. That said, the Presidential Administration and President Lukashenka have full control over the foreign policy agenda and the law enforcement.

Overall, Minsk is determined to develop relations with Western capitals. The Belarusian authorities are likely to take controversial actions, i.e. to demonstrate the desire for liberalization in some areas and occasionally tighten repressions against the opponents, however without creating new political prisoners.