Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Belarus and Russia signed a contract to build NPP

Russia signed a $10 billion contract with Belarus on Wednesday to build the former Soviet republics first nuclear power plant.

The contract was signed in the presence of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Belarusian counterpart Mikhail Myasnikovich.

The $10 billion plant will be built by Russias Atomstroyexport company, a subsidiary of Rosatom civilian nuclear power corporation. The plant will consist of two reactors each of 1,200 MW capacity and will boost the entire Belarusian energy system's capacity to 8,000 MW.

Russia will grant Belarus a $10 billion loan for construction of the plant.

The power stations first unit is due to be ready in November 2018 and the second in July 2020.

Belarus began preparing to build a nuclear plant back in the 1980s, but the project was shelved following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in neighboring Ukraine.

Belarusian opposition and environmental activists have raised concerns over the project, which were further stoked by the March 2011 accident at Japans Fukushima nuclear power station.

Russia says it employs advanced technology to ensure accident-free operations at all the power stations it builds.