News

Belarus Gets $2.5 Billion Credit Line From IMF

The International Monetary Fund, with the concurrence of the United States, has agreed lend Belarus $2.5 billion to help it deal with effects of the global economic crisis. The IMF decision Wednesday reflects a thaw in relations between the authoritarian government in Minsk and the United States and the rest of Europe.

Belarus has joined several other European countries, including Iceland and Hungary, in gaining IMF credit lines to help it weather the financial crisis, which has caused the central European country's exports and currency reserves to wither in recent months.

The managing-director of the Washington-based IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn of France, announced the 15-month stand-by credit arrangement Wednesday. The IMF governing board must still approve the offer, but that is considered pro-forma.

Belarus, which recently obtained a two-billion-dollar loan from neighboring Russia, sought the IMF credit line in October as its monetary reserves dwindled along with income from key exports such as potash and refined oil products.

The IMF agreement marks a further easing of the international isolation of the government of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The former Soviet official has ruled the country with an authoritarian hand since 1994, but has recently made a number of conciliatory gestures to the West including the release of the last three government detainees considered political prisoners.

Asked about the IMF decision, State Department Acting Spokesman Gordon Duguid said U.S. efforts to engage with the Minsk government have produced at least some limited gains.

'The Belarusians have a long way to go, particularly on their human rights record. However, the engagement that we've started with the Belarusians has produced some results," he said. "This is not to say we'll stop reminding them that their human rights record needs much improvement, that their process for starting a more representative form of government needs to be much improved. But we're doing that through engagement."

The Bush administration welcomed the release last August of the remaining Belarusian political prisoners including opposition figure Alexander Kozulin, and opened a high-level dialogue with the Minsk government.

However, it joined European allies in expressing disappointment over the conduct of parliamentary elections in Belarus in September that did not yield a single seat for opposition candidates and which the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE, said fell short of international standards.

Spokesman Duguid said another problem issue in the bilateral relationship is the case of Emanuel Zeltzer, a Russian-born U.S. citizen convicted of industrial espionage in Belarus in August and given a three-year prison term.

He said the United States has no way to assess the fairness of  the case against Zeltser because his trial was closed.  The United States continues to call for his release on humanitarian grounds because of reports he is failing health.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs