Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, faced with a currency crisis, has angrily warned key creditor Russia to keep its hands off state assets.
The central bank took an axe to the Belarus rouble this week, devaluing it by 56 percent in an attempt to control the current account deficit, and Russia has been seeking to buy assets in return for a two billion euro emergency loan.
“There will be no gangster sellout of our country! Not a single kopeck! We will not sell our potash industry, or our tractor and car factories, nor the BMZ steelworks. Nobody will buy anything unless I say so,” announced Lukashenko on television.
Lukashenko has also ordered the government to expel some foreign media, saying Russian journalists were “the most hysterical” at sowing panic. But ratings agency Standard and Poor’s revised Belarus’s ‘B’ long-term debt to a ‘negative’ outlook on Friday increasing the pressure, and inflation is forecast to hit 39 percent this year.
The devaluation has sparked panic buying of staples like sugar suflower oil and vinegar as consumers fear their money is losing value at the same time as prices soar.