Trade Ministry to punish retailers for late payments to tobacco and alcohol suppliers
The Trade Ministry has informed the Minsk city executive committee of substantial payment arrears by Evrotorg and Rublevsky to food suppliers. Alcohol and tobacco make up to 10% of their retail sales. Checks performed by the Trade Ministry aim to improve settlements in trade as a whole, increase the range of goods on sale and increase the share of Belarusian produces on the shelves in these retailers. The Trade Ministry has threatened these two retailers with revoking their licenses for alcohol and tobacco for a short period and suggested that as a matter of compensation they could buy MAZ trucks for their fleet.
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.