21 January 2018, Sunday, 13:48

Andrei Suzdaltsev: Devaluation will cause a destabilization tsunami


Lukashenka has no time to make a decision.

The week that has ended may be considered a pause, which the authorities attempted to use exactly for deciding on the following steps.

The main problem is money. They terribly need money. Belarusian authorities need to somehow survive the two months before the start of January, in order to hold out till they receive the desired duty-free Russian oil (they cannot live without charity). They need to literally crawl away from the “nuclear explosion” of almost imminent devaluation, able to cause a tsunami of social and political destabilization. They need to keep the country’s “foreign currency workshop” – Belaruskali, which is falling apart, alive until new rich contracts come, if they are possible at all, since there is a tough, experienced and merciless competitor playing against the Belarusian Potash Company. They need, need, need…

The situation is complicated with the fact that Belarusian authorities found themselves in a peculiar kind of isolation. A number of meetings with Russia’s government took place, but there was no result. Moreover, not, in two weeks’ time after the latest meeting at a polygon in Kaliningrad region, the realization comes that in fact Putin faced Lukashenka with a soft ultimatum in the “either/or” format. Either integration or… etc.

At the same time, it is only now that it has become clear to the Belarusian leadership, that there is nope hope for Russia just like there is no hope for China. No one will provide loans. Igor Sechin will not help. There will be no additional oil in the IV quarter either. This fact had to be recognized by Uladzimir Siamashka, which meant: official Minsk’s “old cows” (the line of the arguments) do not impress Moscow.

Time is Lukashenka’s main enemy and ally at the same time. There is no time left for taking some steps, capable of changing the situation. The privatization program, that appeared literally out of nowhere, tell only one thing – give us money at least for plans and promises. They ran to kneel before the IMF.

It is clear that there will be no privatization. We saw it all in May-June 2011, when they promised to start deep privatization in exchange for the loan from the Eurasian Economic Community’s anti-crisis fund. Now they are expecting the loan’s sixth tranche and are proud to have cheated. Official Minsk does not realize that it has cheated on itself. The money was consumed, new money portion is not coming.

On the other hand, time can be played for. If there are at least some more or less significant resources.