Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

There are between up to 30,000 Ukrainian refugees in Belarus, Lukashenka says

Naviny.by

There are between 27,000 and 30,000 Ukrainian refugees in Belarus at present, and these people do not plan to return, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said in Minsk on Friday while meeting with a large group of Russian journalists.

Most of those Ukrainians are reasonable people, but some of them believe that Belarusian authorities should “swaddle them and carry them in their arms because they are victims,” the Belarusian leader said. “We sober up such people. We understand that they are victims and are having a hard time, but we provide all conditions for them to work and earn for themselves and their children, and they will be no worse than in Ukraine. However, we don’t create exceptional conditions for them, as this may alienate our population from the outsiders to a certain extent.”

Mr. Lukashenka said that Ukrainian refugees could get jobs in Belarus, with some employers even offering housing to Ukrainians. He acknowledged that it was very difficult to find such employers in Minsk. “Ninety-nine point nine percent understand this, but there’re those who want to have an apartment in Minsk and will sit and wait for benefits,” he said.

Mr. Lukashenka insisted that all bureaucratic barriers had been removed for Ukrainian refugees who want to enter Belarus.

He noted that Belarus had 70,000 vacancies and an unemployment rate of less than 0.5 percent. Two-thirds of the job openings are for manual workers, he added.

According to Mr. Lukashenka, businesspeople who have fled from Ukraine express readiness to invest in state agricultural companies in Belarus. “They have realized that agriculture can generate serious profits,” he said.