It has been a day of mixed fortunes for Belarus’s opposition and the national economy. The main opposition leader, Alexander Milinkevich, was released from prison on the same day Russian media reported Moscow intends to possibly triple the price of gas sales to Belarus.
Milinkevich was jailed for 15 days for organising a rally against President Alexander Lukashenko last month in a venue officials said was off-limits. Western governments accuse Lukashenko of crushing human rights. Milinkevich lost to Lukashenko in a presidential election in March which western observers claim was flawed.
If a massive energy price is imposed it would signal an end of Moscow’s support for Lukashenko and heap unprecedented pressure on him.
Analysts say it would halt economic growth in the country and paralyse its welfare system.