Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said today that he decided to ban rising consumer prices in response to “exorbitant” inflation throughout the economy, state media reported.
“As of today, any price increase is prohibited. Forbidden!”, the state news agency Belta quoted dictator Lukashenko at a meeting of government ministers, reproduced by international news agencies
“It starts today, not from tomorrow, but from today, so that prices cannot be inflated in the course of the day,” Lukashenko said.
The president has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994 and is known for his eccentricities and radical suggestions, such as drinking a daily shot of vodka to protect himself from the coronavirus, in open opposition to science.
“As of October 6, all price increases are prohibited. Forbidden. From today. Not from tomorrow, from today. So that prices do not rise in the next 24 hours,” Lukashenko said at a meeting with officials.
He stated that consumer prices are “outrageous” and have risen 18 percent year-on-year.
“Meat, dairy, poultry… are getting more and more expensive. Eggs have been in short supply in Minsk in recent days,” said Lukashenko, 68.
“The task is to return to an inflation rate of 7-8 percent for next year,” he said.
Belarus, which borders Ukraine, is a staunch ally of Vladimir Putin’s Russia and actually allowed its territory to be used by Moscow’s troops to launch a military campaign against kyiv in late February.
In this context, Belarus has been hit by a wave of Western sanctions for aiding Russia’s military action in Ukraine and by a fierce post-election crackdown in 2020.
It should be remembered that Lukashenko, Russia’s main ally, published a video some time ago in which he appeared, ironically, cutting wood to help Europe not to “die of cold” this winter.
This joke in bad taste occurs when European countries, faced with an explosion in gas and electricity prices due to the conflict in Ukraine, fear shortages and ask their inhabitants to “sober” energy. In this video broadcast on national television, Lukashenko is seen with an ax before a pile of chopped logs.
“They will not be allowed to freeze to death in Europe,” says the Belarusian leader, smiling. “We will help our brothers. Maybe they will help us one day too, ”he adds, before splitting a log with a strong ax blow.
“Europe cannot be squeamish at the moment. Whether it is fir or birch, the important thing is that they are warm,” Lukashenko added.
This scenery of the Belarusian leader occurs when relations between European countries and Minsk, an ally of Russia, are very tense.
In the context of this conflict in Ukraine, Russia, the largest supplier of hydrocarbons in Europe, sharply reduced its gas supplies, causing fears of shortages and an increase in prices.
This inflation of energy prices raises fears of a serious energy crisis starting this winter in Europe, forcing European governments to ask the population and companies to reduce their consumption.