IMF to inquire into economic situation in Belarus

The International Monetary Fund announced that on Monday, 13 September, it would launch a virtual mission to collect additional information about the economic situation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Belarus. The decision was made “amid concerns” over the allocation of over 900 million US dollars to the Lukashenko regime as a part of the support provided for some countries in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The funds were transferred to the foreign exchange reserves of Belarus in September.

Belarusian opposition along with civil activists from the Western countries opposed the allocation of financial assistance to Belarus. They argued that the EU and the US had not recognized Alexander Lukashenko as a legitimate president, and, therefore, funds could not be transferred to a country with an illegitimate government.

Lukashenko became one of the main COVID-19 dissidents in the world, as he called the WHO-announced coronavirus pandemic nothing more than a “psychosis”, suggested “fighting this virus” by consuming “40–50 grams in pure alcohol” and reassured that “a tractor will cure everyone”. Belarusian authorities did not impose strict restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since June 2020, Belarusian authorities stopped publishing mortality data, thus hiding the real COVID-19 mortality rates. Belarus also lacks any official statistics on the number of doctors who have died from the coronavirus, despite the WHO recommendation to publish information on the infected health workers. According to the information collected by the doctors themselves, COVID-related mortality rates among medical professionals in Belarus might be among the highest in the world.

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