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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

IMF Warns Minsk on Price Rises

MINSK -- The International Monetary Fund has told Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko to reconsider his order to bring prices back under state control if he wants more aid, a senior government official said Friday.

"Yesterday the IMF sent a letter saying that the president should officially and publicly abandon state regulation of prices," said the official, who declined to be named. "Now everything depends on the position of the president."

An IMF official in Minsk said free prices were an IMF condition for granting further credits. "I hope the president's order is a temporary retreat," he said.

The Minsk government had been expected to send an economic policy memorandum to the IMF this week, clearing the way for possible credits of $180 million. But the official said the document had not been sent.

Lukashenko last week demanded that prices, which had risen by up to 70 percent, be brought back to Nov. 1 levels and threatened to sack and arrest anyone failing to implement his policies.

Lukashenko was elected on a platform to root out corruption, reverse price rises, stop privatization and move closer to Russia. But he has since appointed pro-marketeer Mikhail Chigir as prime minister and pledged to pursue rapid reforms under a plan drawn up with IMF help.

Head of the president's administration, Leonid Sinitsyn, said that the order was "a short-term political maneuver."