Belarussians have been rushing to stock up on essentials and durable goods after the National Bank devalued the rouble by 50 percent against both the dollar and the euro.
It is the latest effort to stabilise the country’s overheated economy after the IMF refused a loan and the EU agreed new economic sanctions on the Minsk regime.
Some analysts see the new exchange rate as more realistic and a much-needed boost to exporters.
But others disagree. Economist Leonid Zaiko said Minsk cannot rule the country forgetting the basic laws of economics.
“We cannot ignore the fact we have a negative trade balance of 10 billion dollars,” he added.
And some of President Alexander Lukashenko’s economic incentives have backfired.
The public sector invested a pre-election pay hike in foreign currency rather than spending the extra income in shops.
Waiting in the wings is Moscow. Although it has cut its cash handouts to Minsk for a variety of political reasons, it is looking at buying up some five billion euros of Belarussian assets.
Minsk is already working out the details of the sale of some of the family silver as it struggles to balance the books.