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28.11.2008

Financial Times Deutschland: Dictator Lukashenka holds large-scale PR action

11:14, — Politics

Economic changes in Belarus does not mean political thaw, Financial Times Deutschland writes today.

Belarus starts large-scale PR action. The Belarusian dictator wants to turn his country into investment paradise and break from Moscows bonds. But to make foreign companies their manufacturing there, Belarus should first solve the problem of its image: the matter is that the last dictator in Europe rules in Belarus, Verena Diethelm writes. Because of the authoritarian regime the state had been isolated for many years. Belarus economy is in heavy dependence on energy deliveries subsidized by Russia.

However, recently Minsk makes obvious attempts of rapprochement with the West: in summer one of the key demands of Brussels was filfilled, political prisoners were released from prisons. As a response to that the EU eased sanctions. And the fact that Lukashenka hasnt recognized the break-away South Ossetia and Abkhazia shows that he wants to be free from dependence on Russia, the journalist writes.

Before that Minsk, which tolerated foreign investors, decided to address them directly. Recently Belarusians organized an investment forum in London. As the chairman of the board of one of Western banks in Minsk noted, government makes serious efforts in order to create attractive investment climate. In 2008 alone 30 laws were adopted for improvement of the business climate in the country.

However, economic changes do not mean a political thaw. At the parliamentary elections in September the OSCE observed facts of falsifying its results, moreover, none of the candidates received a mandate. In this connection, the author summarizes, many experts compare the todays situation in Belarus with the epoch of perestroika in Russia in the 1980ies. Then attempts to carry out market economy reforms without changing the political system were made.


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