Updated at 11:56,07-12-2016

Association of motorists suffers setback as management of Hotel Arbita in Minsk withdraws consent to round-table discussion

The management of Hotel Arbita in Minsk terminated a conference hall lease agreement with Za Awto a day before the association of motorists was scheduled to hold a round-table discussion on motor fuel prices on August 31.

The managers cited "technical reasons" without specifying them.

On Wednesday, Za Awto leader Artsyom Sharkow arranged for the meeting to be held in the hotels restaurant, but the reservation of tables was cancelled, too, with the managers citing again "technical reasons."

The discussion had to take place in the hotels lobby.

Alyaksandr Narolenkaw and Alyaksandr Vasilkow, officials of the Council of Ministers secretariat, showed up, responding to the associations invitation.

Mr. Narolenkaw suggested that Za Awto activists should put forward "constructive" proposals, noting that he could help them arrange a meeting with officials of the finance and economy ministries, the Council of Ministers and state petrochemical conglomerate Belnaftakhim.

"Of course, we failed to mull over the issues that we had planned to raise, because a corridor where you have to talk standing on your feet is not the most appropriate setting for a discussion," Mr. Sharkow told reporters. "But anyhow, their presence and intention to engage in a dialogue and listen to constructive proposals for the stabilization of the situation in the countrys fuel market is a positive step on their part."

Mr. Sharkow said that Za Awto suggested lowering the tax burden on the countrys two oil refineries and operators of filling stations to make it possible for them to curb the soaring retail prices of motor fuel.

He said that the association would send its proposals to the Council of Ministers in the first week of September, adding that the discussion with government officials could take place in early October.