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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Minsk Market Nationalized

Belarus, tightening its grip on the foreign exchange market, nationalized the Minsk currency exchange Thursday and put it under central bank control.

A decree by President Alexander Lukashenko said 12 commercial banks with which the central bank set up the Minsk Interbank Currency Exchange would be compensated for the money they paid into the exchange's capital.

"The nationalization will make it easier for the power structures to regulate the financial market tightly," a currency exchange official said by telephone from Minsk. He asked not to be identified.

A presidential decree last November banned interbank trading in foreign exchange, confining currency operations to the Minsk exchange.

In February, Lukashenko sacked the chief executive of the exchange, Vladimir Biryuk.

Lukashenko has already alienated the International Monetary Fund with his failure to pursue market reforms. Last month the IMF suspended payments on a $300 million standby credit.