Sergei Guriev

Belarus now need to figure out how to live without Russian subsidies.

In Warsaw on 9-10 October hosts the annual Forum of Boris Nemtsov — a conference that brings together politicians, activists, intellectuals and journalists who share liberal values and are interested in establishing a dialogue between Russians and Europeans. Professor of Economics at the Paris School of political Sciences Sergei Guriev, a former rector of the Russian economic school and chief economist of the European Bank for reconstruction and development, told Charter97.org on “tax maneuver”, the sanctions against Russia and that threatens the independence of Belarus.

– Alexei Navalny called for personal sanctions from the West. But sanctions against Russia are also economic damage to Putin’s regime. What do you think about this?

– Alexei Navalny Russian politician cannot call for sanctions that will make the Russian people poorer. But we must understand that individual sanctions, until those in power are those people who are subject to sanctions, will be broadcast on Russian pensioners and taxpayers. Because the regime will compensate those people who fall under the sanctions of loss at the expense of Russian taxpayers and pensioners. So no need to hope that there are financial sanctions that will have an impact on individuals. We have seen, had been taken even laws that people who are sanctioned receive special tax treatment from the state. But judging from what they say those people who fall under the sanctions, they desperately do not want them to fall, not only because of material losses, but also because of changes in their lifestyle. Because, as rightly said Alexei Navalny, for many of these people life strategy is related to their presence in the West, their travel and so on.

– What do you think about the subsidies that Russia provides the regime of Lukashenka?

Is part of Russian foreign policy, which now, by the way, a little change. The basic grant was provided to Belarus through lower oil prices. But now, in connection with the so-called “tax maneuver” for the next six years (2019 to 2025) these subsidies will be gradually eliminated, and in this sense Belarus now have to figure out how to live without them. With regard to loans, they are definitely important, but it’s still credits. Not so much, and even if they are refinanced, but they are not infinite. The main thing was the oil subsidies that are otherwise closed.

Lukashenko said recently that Russia, as the successor to the USSR, could compensate for Belarus the Chernobyl disaster. Why do you think he remembered it?

– I think that all the talk that Russia should compensate Belarus, connected with the “tax maneuver”. This is huge for Belarus amounts. Now we are talking about 300 million dollars a year, and by 2024 it will be about two billion dollars a year. It’s about three to four percent of the Belarusian GDP. This is a huge amount. Therefore, any opportunity in which Lukashenka can ask for compensation, they will be used.

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