Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Lukashenka to ask another $2bn debt from Putin

The Belarusian ruler flies to a meeting in Saint Petersburg to ask Russian colleague for money.

The draft agreement on granting Belarus a $2bn loan by Russia for "modernisation of the Belarusian economy" has already been made by official Minsk, Belorusy i Rynok weekly reports.

The authorities want to pay the loan by 2027 in 40 equal instalment. The first payment is to be made in 2018.

In its request for the loan, Belarus reminds about the arrangements regarding 5 joint integration projects that were earlier reached with the Russian government.

Lukashenka spoke about a $2bn modernisation loan from Russia on December 21 during his visit to Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics. According to him, the loan was discussed during his recent visit to Russia.

"We had negotiations on a wide range of issues with the Russian government and the Russian president on December 18 and 19," Lukashenka said. "I said them both that we should help each other in a crisis if we are brothers. We need a couple of billion in USD loans to modernise our enterprises."

According to the ruler, he didn't have a negative reply to his proposals. "They said: yes, we will think about it and help you," Lukashenka noted.

On December 12, Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev suggested at a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Union State that Belarus should choose five companies and breathe new life into them. "It doesn't matter whether it will be Belarusian or joint Belarusian-Russian companies. We should breathe new life into them and show the results to people," Medvedev said.

Two months later, on February 12, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich assessed the level of readiness of Belarusian enterprises for a deeper integration with Russian companies during his visit to Belarus. Dvorkovich visited MAZ (Minsk Automobile Plant), Grodno Azot and Gomselmash companies, but failed to visit Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant due to a busy schedule.

It is possible that the Belarusian companies inspected by the Russian deputy PM may be considered to be candidates for receiving the Russian loan, but on a probable condition of founding joint ventures with Russian capital on their basis.

Belarusian PM Mikhail Myasnikovich assured Dvorkovich that five joint ventures could be created in 2013, but gave no other details. There is information about formation of a group of companies on the basis of MAZ and KamAZ and possible privatisation of Grodna Azot company, in which Russian EuroKhim company is interested (the Russian company is expected to buy 25% plus one share).

Belarusian first deputy PM Uladzimir Syamashka and Russian deputy PM Arkady Dvorkovich are in charge of the programme on creating Belarusian-Russian joint ventures.