Leanid Zaika: Giving money to Lukashenka is like igniting napalm on yourself
16:44, — Economics
Selling MAZ won't save the Belarusian economy.
Economist Leanid Zaika, the head of the analytical centre Strategy, said it in an interview with charter97.org.
– Mr Zaika, Minsk and Moscow have again failed to reach an agreement on the conditions to set up the MAZ-KAMAZ alliance. Why did it happen? The Belarusian ruler agreed with Putin's conditions on the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), received the Russian loan and discounts on oil duties in exchange. He was supposed to agree on selling MAZ.
– Firstly, these are different things. MAZ and KAMAZ are economic entities, not the most important ones. They don't produce Topol-M missiles. Secondly, these reasons are not significant enough to delay or speed up any decision. Thirdly, the main point is that Aliaksandr Lukashenka should understand the strategic importance of signing the package of documents on the Eurasian Union that gives him access to cheap Russian oil. It costs tens of billions of dollars. Belarus does not regard MAZ, equipped with the captured German machines of the 1940s, as a strategic prospect, and never did. Don't put these different things together. Today, Minsk's decisions are 80% influenced by Russia. Russian officials and the Kremlin understand that they have to give 2 billion so that Lukashenka can sign the Eurasian Union treaty and save the Belarusian ruble for three or four months. The rest things are not important. Lukashenka sees the prospects for days and months and understand sthe MAZ-KAMAZ merger did not and will not have a significant economic role.
– If so, why didn't he agree on Russia's demand on transferring shares of the two companies to the holding company?
– It's not quite right to say that Russia can demand that a Belarusian economic entity transfer its shares. We can say that a part of KAMAZ owners, who represent Russian oligarchs, demonstrate or manipulate the Kremlin in favour of taking over of MAZ by KAMAZ. This is pressure from the oligarch lobby, but nothing more. It's up to Lukashenka to decide whether he will take this lobby group into account or not.
– But the Belarusian economy needs money as never before, doesn't it?
– The Belarusian economy doesn't need money. It needs good managers and good investors. Giving money to Belarus is the same as igniting the napalm on yourself: it's silly, painful and strategically unprofitable.