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Russia rushes to bail out Belarus

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April 19, 2011, 3:51 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters

Reuters

Russia wants to finish negotiations for a loan to cash-strapped Belarus within a month, offering conditions similar to those typical of an International Monetary Fund programme, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said over the weekend. "I would like to finish it all within a month," Kudrin told journalists on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

"But it all depends on whether there are difficulties with questions that we are dealing with right now," he said, without elaborating.

Belarus is seeking a $1 billion loan from Moscow and $1.7 billion from a Russia-led regional bailout fund as it is running out of foreign-currency reserves due to a big trade deficit and overspending in the run-up to the December 2010 presidential election.

Russia has asked Belarus to submit a credible plan for economic stabilization, and Kudrin said Moscow would like to issue the loan on terms similar to those typical for IMF standby programmes.

"I think that those proposals and the criteria that we will stick to will ... in my opinion, 80 percent, meet the requirements of the IMF," Kudrin said.
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