THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS
June 20, 1998
Report made by Energibevægelsen OOA in co-operation with
Youth Ecological Movement Belaya Rus with the support of Plum s
|OOA, Ryesgade 19
2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark
Tel: (45) 35 35 55 07, Fax: (45) 35 35 65 45
|YEM Belaya Rus, P.B 53
220027 Minsk, Belarus
Tel (375) 172 39 92 49, Fax (375) 172 31 30 49
Table of Contents
Where is the Republic of Belarus? What's going on there....
The Republic of Belarus has common borders with Poland, the Ukraine, Lithuania, and
Russia. It numbers 11 millions inhabitants.
Because of the election of president Lukashenka in 1994, the country hasn't followed
the same path as other newly independent states of the former Soviet block; The regime is
seen as totalitarian-populist- and the economical and political situation is worsening day
after day. Every week, new presidential decrees are issued yhat have the result of further
closing the country and attempting to control all sectors of the economy. The standards of
living is dramatically deteriorating, and the tight control over the media by the
government makes it more and more difficult for the people to be informed on what is going
People's most basic rights are threatened.
In such a context the people of Energibevægelsen OOA and the people
of Youth Ecological Movement Belaya Rus felt there was a need to provide the
people of Belarus and the international community with an overview of the situation based
on independent and relialable informations.
For this purpose we met with a number of international and European representation in
Minsk as well as with some national and Russian representations from May 15 to June 15 (1)
We were just in time....
Just in time before the "Drozdy crisis"(2)
and the departure of all the western diplomats (EU countries, the USA and Japan) in
mission in Belarus.
The purpose of this report is to show:
- the trends of international assistance to Belarus since 1992 -which
countries/inter governmental organisation has been involved , in which areas, what amount
of money have been spend- in order to determine who are the actors in the Republic;
- the increasing isolation of the country on the political, economical and
social level; This is based on official position of foreign countries and private
business when information were available;
- evidences that there is a proposal of building a nuclear power plant
in Belarus and that the decision process has already started;
The research are the results of an investigation to find out who are the
international actors promoting this project (banks, enterprises, country). To
complete the picture, a press review Signs of Repression has been included;
It gives an idea of the level of repression in the Republic and shows that anyone who
attempts to oppose the construction of the nuclear power plant would see his freedom
International Assistance to
from 1992 to 1998(3).
- Assistance to Belarus ----
from 1992 to 1998
Total :US$ 590 mln
TACIS (Technical Assistance to CIS countries(4))
The TACIS programme is Belarus largest multilateral donor, accounting for 70% of the
total aid provided by multilateral donors.
Areas of focus are restructuring and privatisation of enterprises, production,
processing and distribution of foodstuffs, agricultural development, energy, transport,
telecommunications, development of small and medium sized enterprises, conversion of
military industries, education, civil society, consultant in politics and laws.
No more project signed for 1998 and further, only national project signed in 1995 are
continuing until the end of 1998.
Total: US$ 56 mln. from 1992-1997.
EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and
Belarus became a member of the bank in 1992 and remains an active creditor to the
7 main projects have been implemented and supported by loan agreements since 1992:
- Financing of telecommunication facilities: US$ 38,8 mln.
- Modernisation of Orsha, power plant: US$ 41 mln.
- Minsk whole sale market: US$ 6,32 mln.
- Highway Brest-Minsk-Russian border improvement: US$ 41 mln.
- Equity investment in Belarus Priorbank aiming to promote the independent
banking sector of Belarus: US$ 3,025 mln.
- Modernisation of a glass factory, private sector (Elizovo a joint-venture
Canada-Belarus): loan of US$ 7,7 mln +equity investment : US$ 1 mln, total: US$
- A credit line has been opened in 1994 to fund of small/medium sized enterprises:
US$ 30 mln. By October 1997, the equivalent of USS 16,5 mln. had
been committed to 21 projects in the private sector.
Total: US$ 185,34 mln.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
Total US$ 453.000
United Nations Organisation from 1992 to 1996:
The World Bank (The International Bank for Reconstruction and
- US$ 672.000 from 1992-1996 for technical assistance
- US$ 120 mln ,a rehabilitation loan
Total: US$ 120.672.000
WHO (World Health Organisation)
Total:US$ 8,5 mln.
IMF (International Monetary Fund)
Loan for the restoration of the balance of payment and governmental reforms. Loan goes
directly to the Belarusian government, the IMF doesn't monitor the expenses made with the
From July 1st 1998, no more resident mission of IMF in Belarus.
Total: US$ 200 mln.
IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)
Rehabilitation projects in Chernobyl contaminated areas and research to develop nuclear
Total: US$ 525.500
Other UN organisations
UNDP, UNESCO, UNDCP, UNICEF, ILO UNCTAD,UNIDO, UNHCR, UNAIDS, UNEP, UNFPA
Total: US$ 2,86 mln.
United Nations Organisation (All the UN organisation together)
from 1997 to 1998:
Total: US$ 1,5 mln. spend in 17 projects; poverty
prevention, forestry management, postal services, Technopark, media, centre for studies,
small business development, credit union, security market in Belarus etc.
NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations)
NGOs have received grants from Soros Foundation, The Eurasia Foundation and other western
Total: US$ 8,43 mln. from 1992-96
-----Bilateral Donors to Belarus-----
Until 1996 , the USA were the largest donor to Belarus:
- US$ 57 mln. for technical assistance from 1992 to 1996; Nothing since
- US$ 46 mln. for the Nunn-Lugar programme (It aims to destroy nuclear
SS25 warheads. programme started to be implemented but stopped in 1996);
Total: US$ 103 mln.
Technical assistance programme "Transform":
- Total: US$ 28 mln. from 1992-96 (gap 1997, no number available);
- Total :US$ 3,05 mln. for 1998;
Areas: providing consultant to help to the government of Belarus, foreign economic
relations, construction, developing the social sector, the agrarian sector,, professional
training and retraining, developing a quality control system, business and enterprise,
consultant on organising production.
Present: Technical assistance programme still going on and private business developing.
Total:US$ 31,05 mln.
Technical assistance the British Know-How Fund program:
- total: US$ 3,05 mln. from 1992-96;
- total: US$ 1,24 mln .for 1997;
- total: US$ 930.000 for 1998;
Total: US$ 5,22 mln. from 1992-98
CZECH & SLOVAK REPUBLICS
- US$ 100.000 for humanitarian aid (5)
- US$ 100.000 for HA; In May 1998, the Czech government issued to Belarus
this grant to buy medicine and medical equipment for contaminated areas;
Total: US$ 200.000 from 1992 to 98 with a gap in 1997 (no information
Italy provides with HA but has no commercial contact, no credit line, no technical
assistance with Belarus.
Total: US$ 5,85 mln. from 1992-96 for HA
- US$ 2,15 mln. from 1992-96 , most of it was to promote co-operation
under the Nuclear-Arms Non Proliferation Treaty.
- US$ 200.000 granted for 8 projects in 1997 for NGOs working for the
children of Chernobyl.
- US$ 2 mln., for Humanitarian Aid in 1998.
Others are not revealed (credit line ?)
Total:US$ 4,35 mln.
13 environmental assistance projects from 1992-Oct.1997
Total: US$ 4,14 mln.
||US$ 2,37 mln
||US$ 5,37 mln
||US$ 1,77 mln
||(no figure available)
-----International Assistance to
projects in the -----
Energy sector in Belarus
from 1992 to 1998.
(realised with the Belarusian Ministry of Energy)
Total spend :US$ 50 mln
- US$ 882.000, is the total amount spend in several small projects for:
Energy conservation, Energy supply;
- US$ 41 mln, Modernisation of Orsha power plant;
The Commission of the European Union
- US$ 3,125 mln, Co-operation in the establishment of the Minsk energy
centre (to evaluate method of energy saving),1993-96;
- US$ 312.500, Energy audit power generation plant (proposal of
modifications to improve energy efficiency, 1994-95;
- US$ 1.125.000, Global energy strategy,
- US$ 60.000, Introduction to energy metering, 1993-95;
- US$ 1.055.000, others;
2 projects of the TACIS national programme started in 1995, extended to the end of 1998,
- US$ 1,65 mln, Restructuring of power generation;
- US$ 1,65 mln, Energy saving in buildings (project will be
extended until end 1998;
The World Bank
- US$ 35.000 Energy sector, training for workers (1993-95);
- US$ 497.000 Working out the reforms in the energy sector. (1993-95);
- US$ 150.000 Preparation of project "Energy Saving in social
- US$1 mln to draft the project "Energy Saving in social
sphere" (April 1998);
- US$ 20 mln Implementation of the project "Energy Saving in social
sphere" next year (1999)? -not included in the general total above-];
Why do they fail ?
The general opinion about that and the main reasons are:
- there is no follow up by other actors when the international financing is over;
- the re-investment in the project is very low (ex: in efficiency programme);
- there is no transferring of know-how;
- there is a certain reluctance of the people (if people can't measure how much money and
energy is saved after upgrading a building for example, they won't be motivated to keep
doing actions in this way);
- the dependence of the Russians (with the privatisation process going on);
- the national energy policy which isn't really looking for solutions;
United Nations Development programme, Ledger of Approved Project Budgets for the month
of May 1998. Tableau de Bord, Poste d'Expansion Economique pres l'Ambassade
de France a Minsk, Juil. 97.EBRD headquarters in London. International Technical
Assistance to the Republic of Belarus, 1992-96 .UNDP.Minsk News, May-June
1998, The World Bank, Belarus resident mission, newsletter. April 1998.
The Republic of Belarus isolated ?
During the year 1996, some countries have stopped commercial relations (6), loans and technical assistance to Belarus.
Because the situation has been worsening since, day after day, some international
institutions and countries have taken a less active part in Belarus, and some have left
when others are still active and sometimes co-operating with the Belarusian government.
Due to failing reforms, donors leave
Since 1992, the IMF has given to Belarus US$ 200 mln for governmental reforms over a
period of 3 years. Since 1995, there has been no IMF program and no money to Belarus. On
July 1998, the IMF will close its representation in Minsk; IMF's experts say that they are
" concerned about tight state control over prices and currency-exchange rates an
ever increasing number of barter deals" and worried about "a draft
presidential decree stipulating the subordination of the National Bank to the
government". They say " the economic policy is unstable and
unsustainable."(7) No more IMF
activities in Belarus except the "Article 4 mission"; which applies to every
country who's member of IMF: IMF will co-operate to make a governmental statistical report
of the economic of Belarus.
The World Bank
In a press conference on May 18, P. Siegelbaum, Executive director criticises Belarus for
"distorted rubble exchange"and declared that "corruption is a
significant problem in Belarus: "it comes from unnecessary regulation in the
country ; there are too many unnecessary tax, which will make the foreign exchange to
surrender". The lack of progress is because of failing reforms. The situation
for a financial earthquake is building".
The WB will maintain its representation in Belarus but will only implement an
educational programme and an energy saving project.No more rehabilitation loan.Belarus is
at the bottom list of the banks priority.
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme )
The UNDP say they "are the only stable sources of money for Belarus as well as a
neutral organisation", they work with the Priorbank and provide only technical
assistance. They say to have good and well developed relations with the Belarusian
Authorities. They will try not to decrease the number of project in the country and to
maintain the same trace as in the previous years. Three possible actors can
manage/execute a UNDP project: the National Belarusian Authorities, the UN itself, the
The future tendency will be to give execution of projects to NGOs
SOROS OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATION
The Foundation has spend more than US$13mln until 1996 to support nongovernmental
organisations.The Foundation was forced out (8)of
the country for the Belarusian Authorities considered billionaire Soros and the supported
activities as a threat for the regime
No more support to NGOs from Soros.
On feb.16 1998, following a European council declaration of Sept. 1997, the European
Parliament passed a resolution on arbitrary arrests in Belarus: "Calling on the
Belarusian authorities to restore international human rights standards"
The European Parliament concerned at frequent reports of human rights violations,
the criminalization of non-governmental organisations and intimidation against
journalists, actors in civil society and political opponents which demonstrate that
President Lukashenko is unwilling to restore democratic standards, thus widening the gap
between Belarus and the democratic world,
Calls the Belarus authorities to restore international standards in the fields of
human rights, freedom
5. Stresses again that no further co-operation between the European Union
and Belarus may be undertaken until clear steps towards respect for human rights and
democratic and legal reforms are taken by the Belarus Government;
7. emphasis the need to continue financial support for further assistance
programmes for enhancement of civil society in Belarus and to assess the
possibilities for training opportunities for students abroad (..).(9)
Impact of the EU resolution
Since 1996, Tacis Co-ordination in Belarus is no longer subordinated to the Council of
Ministers but to the Ministry of Economy. In 1998,Tacis will still be implementing 2
national programmes in Belarus which started in 1995, until the end of 1998. The 2
projects, worth ECU 1,5 mln each are: "Restructuring of power generation" and
"Energy saving in buildings". No more assistance have been planned in 1997 for
the coming years. The Tacis delegation in Brussels is currently negotiating with the
Belarusian government the acceptation of a "Civil society development programme"
of ECU 5 mln.
The future of Tacis in Belarus will depend on the acceptance or rejection of
this project. In case of a "no" Tacis will probably leave the country.
Belarus became shareholder of the bank in 1992.The Ministry of Economic and Foreign
Affairs in Belarus sees the EBRD as the most active creditor to the Republic(10) with a total credit agreement of US$ 540 mln.
The EBRD, in 1995, opened a credit line for US$ 30 mln which will provide money to Belarus
until 2002 to develop small and medium sized enterprises in the private sector.
On Dec. 1997, the EBRD has financed the first private industrial project
in Belarus aiming to modernise a glass factory with a joint-venture (Canada/Belarus): US$
8,7 mln (loan: US$ 7,7 mln+ investment US$ 1 mln) .
On Dec. 1997, the EBRD has made the first investment in Belarusian bank,
the Priorbank, Belarus fifth largest bank and universal bank: US$ 3,025 mln.
No changes in the EBRD activities in Belarus since the European Resolution.
The European Union System
Has set up last year a triparty working group (mediation with Lukashenka), which was
unsuccessful. On a regular basis, EU official meets Belarusian opposition delegates. On
June 3rd 1998, the EU-Belarus group of the European Parliament considered human
rights situation and intended to develop a special strategy in relations with Belarus.(11)
It is difficult to evaluate Western investments as companies don't have to report their
activities to their respective embassies in Belarus. Our sources of knowledge based on
embassies figures most of the time, publication of the UNDP and news agency press
releases. When there is no official representation of a given country in Belarus (some are
closed)it is very likely that there is very little co-operation with Belarus. Western
investments are not very important and were mostly contracted before 1996 (1996: US$ 123,9
mln; 1995: US$ 157,3 mln) according to the EBRD. The trend of co-operation is decreasing
with few exceptions, Germany and Austria.
Private sector, only few small and medium sized companies. Don't report to the embassy, so
no number available.
- 1000t rice/ 500t sugar in 1998.
- The children of Chernobyl: every year Italy host 32.000 children for a period of 1-3
months. The biggest humanitarian assistance made to Belarus in this area.
An intergovernmental credit line of US$57 mln, has been blocked 2 years ago,
no more credit today.
DENMARK (no Scandinavian representation in Belarus )
- Few Danish companies have representative offices in Minsk for trade purpose. One major
direct investment is made by Belcare Plast Ltd.
- 3 projects have been developed between 1992 and 1997 by the Danish Environmental
Protection Agency, for a total of US$ 4,4 mln.
No more project signed since Sept. 1997. The relations are kept at a minimum
There is no governmental credit line with Belarus.There is the least private business in
Belarus from the UK as the situation is not favourable and there is no export credit
insurance by the UK government.
- In 1997, ordinary commercial business totalled US$ 23mln and total British investment
were US$ 8,8 mln on Jan.1998.
- The technical assistance, British Know-How Fund will support for US$ 930.000 for
1998 but could increase if new projects come. "It
depends also if the Europe official position would be reviewed. In the future there is no
plan to modify the Know-How Fund in Belarus"says official of the UK embassy.
The position of the British delegation is to keep a low profile, no meeting on
the Ministerial level with Belarusian authorities.
There is no governmental investment from France.
- FASEP (Assistance Fund for Eastern Countries) does no longer exist but it has financed
US$1,3 mln project on telecommunication (France/Telecom + Belarus/Beltelecom) for a period
of 3 years, ending this year;
- Future: investment will increase every year if French companies get new markets;
- French GEC-Alsthom(12) is involved at
Vitebsk,modernasing Orsha thermic plant. It's nearly finished. If it is a success, then
France will develop new thermic plants. France makes 1 % of the total direct investment in
In May 1998, the Spanish Bank, Sabadel has approved a US$ 25 mln
credit line for Belarus to finance Spanish exports to Belarus. An agreement in
this regard has been signed by Sabadel and Belarus Belvneshekonombank. The credit line has
been opened against the Belarusian government's guarantee. No more information available(13)..
THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Czech government has just issued US$100,000 to Belarus as humanitarian
aid to purchase medicine and medical equipment for the areas contaminated by Chernobyl.(14) Plus donation of computers to Charter'97.
The country is an important trade partner of the Republic but no information were
Tied connections with Belarusian authorities on the ministerial level.
" Horst Winkelmann, the German Ambassador to Belarus presented its credentials to
president Lukashenka and meet with Belorussian foreign Minister to discuss political trade
and economic relations between the two countries and other issues of mutual interest"
reported the News Paper Minsk News, June 2-8 1998.
Outside of the CIS, Belarus'main commercial partner is Germany making
17,3% of the total trade turnover.The exchange of good stood at US$ 908,2 mln in 1997.(15)
On May 11-13,1998 took place in Minsk the 4th meeting of Belarusian and German
businessmen organised by the German and Belarus Ministry of Economy and Chamber of
Commerce of both countries. Business co-operation is so good that there are negotiation to
set up an Association of Belarusian businessmen in Germany and discussion with the
Belarusian government to financially support this bilateral project have started.
More than 200 businessmen have negotiated during the meeting and the trade figure was
expected to reach US$1 billion in 1998(16).
The German technical assistance programme "Transform"
amounts : US$ 3,05 mln for 1998 totalled 36 projects and operates in 3 main
- private sector support (business advice centre, consultant training for Belorusians with
German staff. Areas: textile, construction, quality management system.)
- small and medium enterprise, help for development.
- training democracy and civil society, according the EU Parliament's resolution of
"The "Transfrom" programme doesn't touch at all the energy
sector for it would become too political."
There is 2 credit lines from Germany:
- An export credit insurance (credit line ) has been reopened again this year 98(17). (no number yet) made by private German bank.
- A credit line financed by private German banks, which have made 3 major investments in
Belarus (a hotel complexe,the Minsk international airport, a wood processing plant)
Only 2 German private banks, the Commerzbank and the Dresdner bank are doing business
KSW is a half private/half governmental German bank involved in the country.
Germany also provides with humanitarian aid (clothes, food to the victims of Chernobyl),
sponsoring of Belarusian enterprise to take part in trade fairs.
"Promoting" civil society
"A German military delegation led by the commander of the 52nd Mechanised
Infantry Battalion has visited Minsk as part of a co-operation program between the
Belarussian Armed Forces and the German Defence Ministry. The Delegation visited military
educational institutions and met with Major-General Grygory Svirko, chief of the Military
Academy."reported Minsk News on June 2-8 1998.
The country has provided Belarus with US$ 5,4 mln technical help between
1992 and 1996. Austria has developed a large number of projects in the social and medical
sphere for the children of Chernobyl.
Austria is the one of the major trade partners among non-CIS states. The
Austrian-Belarusian business deals and turnover have been increasing since 1996; There is
a total of 27 joint ventures with Belarusian shareholders with a total capital of US$ 7,5
mln (Austria has US$ 5,2 mln) and 8 Austrian companies with 100% Austrian shareholding
(the largest is Robert Bosh with a capital of US$ 720.000). An export
credit line totalling US$ 500 mln(18) was
utilised between 1992-97 following an intergovernmental agreement. Acting as a
governmental agent on the credit line, Belvnesheconombank concluded major interbanks
agreements with 4 Austrian banks: Kreditanschtalt-Bankverein, Landerbank-Bank Austria,
Raifaisen Zentral-bank and Bank fur Oberosterreich.
More loans: The First vice Premier to Austria visited Belarus in January 1998
and had signed new loans from Austrian banks to finance two projects
(metallurgical and meat factory).
Future tendency: In late April 98, a delegation of businessmen headed by the President
of the Federal Chamber of Economy of Austria visited Belarus and concluded
agreements worth US$ 800 mln." Austria could soon oustrip Germany in
investment in the Belarusian economy" said the Belarusian Minister of Foreign
and Economic Affairs.(19)
(no figure, no information were available from the Embassy of Russia in Minsk).
THE UNITED STATES
The USA have reacted to authoritarism of the regime in 1996 and cancelled all the
ExImpBank credits. The economical co-operation with Belarus is at the lowest level. There
is no credit line USA/Belarus any longer.
The NUUN-LUGAR funding (US$ 383 mln) was suspended in 1996; Its aim was
to help Belarus to destroy SS25 warheads. This credit would be reopened if the situation
would get better, and an earth decontamination program(20)
would be implemented also.
There is no assistance at all, only minor trade import/export India/Belarus at the own
risk of the entrepreneur.
Except the humanitarian help, no other information were available from the Japanese
representation. "It's too political" said the Embassy.
There is no governmental assistance programme and no government to government program. No
major trade reported.
CIS countries are let apart.
First step in the decision making
process about building a nuclear power plant in the Republic of Belarus
About the Republic of Belarus
Belarus became an independent republic on July 27, 1991. Since the election of President
Lukashenka in July 1994 followed by a referendum in May 1995, the main question is not
about co-operation with occident but about co-operation with Russia.In April 1996, the Union
of Belarus and Russia was signed.
President Lukashenka is a populist-authoritarian country leader, known for its
nostalgia of old Soviet time; nostalgia which he shares with the rural population and the
Reforms are very slow when they are not failing, suspended sometimes, and in any cases
depend on the good will of the President.
Belarus and Chernobyl
Chernobyl NPP is located in Ukraine, 15 kilometres from the border with Belarus.70% of the
radionucleide emitted at the time of the Chernobyl accident feld down on the territory of
Belarus; More than 23% of the territory of Belarus with acontamination by caesium-137 of
more than 37kBq/m2; It means that these areas are not suitable for living permanentely on,
but more than 1,8 million people including 500.000 children live in those contaminated
areas. Belarus forwards about 20% of the yearly national budget to overcome the
consequences of the accident. However the scale of the disaster is huge (the national
damage for the years 1986-2015 are 270 mlrd US$, this equals 32 national budgets of
Belarus in 1985).Due to the hard economic conditions Belarus is not able to issue the
necessary financial resources to overcome sufficiently the consequences of the nuclear
Belarus energy situation
The Belarusian energy system is in common with Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic States. It
enables Belarus to import gas, oil and energy from these countries at reduced prices.
by very cheep way.
The Belarusian energy system is able to produce about 43 bill kWh per year. The energy
consumption in 1996 was: 32.2 bill kWh; 23.6 bill kWh were produced in Belarus and 8.6
bill kWh were imported from Russia and Latvia. So in 1996 the Belarusian energy system
produced only 53% of its capacity
The supplying of energy is crucial for the country who has limited non-renewable
indigenous energy resources; Belarus' oil production covers only 20% of its needs;
In 1995,it had to import 12 mln tons of oil, 1,2 mln tons of coal and, in 1997, the energy
bill represented US$ 1,5 billions worth in exported goods.
Belarus thus relies almost exclusively on imported fuels to cover its energy needs and Russia
remains the sole supplier of imported gas and oil.
- Belarus will never have the natural resources to be fully independent in its energy
production and will always rely on importation;
- conventional electricity plants are ageing and in terrible condition.
- the importation of gas from Russia, and the dependence of Russian good leave Belarus in
a tricky situation;
- Belarus has a hard time to pay its energy bill to Russia; The country can only pay
partially and with long delays; In April 1998, the Belarusian unpaid bill for gas totalled
US$ 225 mln. Recently , Russian Gasprom accepted a barter deal for its gas of 70%
goods/ 30% cash money to relieve the Belarusian government from its debts;
A Nuclear Power Plant in Belarus, soon ?
The idea of building an NPP (Nuclear Power Plant) in Belarus was developed in the
beginning of 1983 by the Soviet Authorities when Belarus was part of the Soviet Empire.
The project was to produce 6 million GWh out of nuclear energy and 2 million GWh out of
conventional energy by the year 2010 to Belarus energy needs.
After April 1986, as a result of the world's worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl NPP
which has highly contaminated 23% of the territory of Belarus and caused severe damaged to
Belarusian population, no one would have dared to raise the idea of an NPP in Belarus any
But 12 years after the Chernobyl catastrophe, the idea is coming back on the forefront
In 1997, Rysland Ignatichev, member of the Chamber of Representative(21) mentioned the facts showing that there is a
project to construct an NPP in Belarus and big effort to realise it.(22)
* During a parliament hearing, V.V Gerasimov, Minister of Fuel and Energy (23) said: "there is no other
alternative to nuclear power". According to the order of the former
Council of Ministers, the research work for the localisation of the construction are going
on and potential sites for an NPP: Bechov, Shklov, Dubrovno. (24)
To questions relating to finance, V.V Gerasimov said that 1 billion RB (25) had been spend to find a potential site.
Also, this hearing showed that the main supporters to develop nuclear power in Belarus are
the members correspondent of the National Academy of Science.
A.A Michalevich, from the Institute of Energy problems, said : "The
characteristics of optimal construction for the Belarusian construction would be 4 units/
600.000 kW capacity or 2 units/ 1.200.000 kW and it would cost approximately US$ 4 to 5
billions." V.V Gerasimov said: " we need to ask for credits" but
he was unable to clarify how Belarus could pay back the credit to the provider.
* A legislation draft on the use of nuclear energy as energy source has been written
and will be discussed in the parliament by the end of the year 1998". said Mrs.
Akopov co-ordinator for the IAEA (among others) in the Ministry for Foreign and Economic
* On March 31, 1998 Prime Minister Serguei Ling ordered the creation of a Committee of
34 members to assess reasons to develop a nuclear power plant in Belarus(26).
The creation of this committee and the discussion on building the NPP have been confirmed
by foreign officials working in Belarus such as the American Embassy: "It is true,
there are some talks about it among experts of the Academy of Science..."
representatives of the TACIS programme:" The idea of an NPP is not excluded" ,
the United Nation's representation in Minsk, BelEnergo, the local population and
the Head of the Belarusian Green Party. The committee's report is due by January 1st,
* Since 1993, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has developed 7 large
projects in Belarus , spending a total amount of : US$ 450.000.
Some of the projects aim to ' analyse the role of nuclear power as the energy supply
of the future" , "..to raise public awareness of potential risks and
benefits of nuclear technology" and to "develop a comprehensive system of
accreditation and certification consistent with international recommendations."
* Preparing the ground to make the population accept the idea by:
- minimising the consequences of the accident of Chernobyl about people's health;
- let people live in contaminated areas, and let people re-settle in evacuated
- abandoning the monitoring of some contaminated areas and the indicators of them as
"Dangerous radioactive areas";
- promoting research with the help of the IAEA to assure rapid rehabilitation of
agricultural & farming land and woods;
- promoting research with the help of the IAEA to make local food suitable to consumption;
Pr. Nesterenko(27) says:"Because of
the different reasons during last two years on the radio, TV and in the mass media there
can be observed a tendency to diminish the danger of high Cs-137 level of accumulation in
the children bodies. There are the attempts to explain this increasing pathology by the
economic crisis, low life standards, chemicals and other harmful substances
In short to make people forget about the Chernobyl accident by denying it.
Russia/Belarus tied connections
The Union of Belarus and Russia and the present situation show tied connections between
Belarus and Russia, as well as a mutual interest in such project.
- Among CIS countries Belarus is the one the most integrated into the Ex-USSR economical
group; the CIS/inhabitant exchange ratio is high. Russia represents 80% of its CIS
importation and 90% of its CIS exportations. But more and more good-against-good exchange
(barter deal) is being developed (food against energy);
- The economical influence of Russia is increasing in many areas (Customs Union, Anti
fraud).The Russian FIGs (Financial and Industrial Groups) are literally controlling entire
sectors of industrial activities such as the energy sector;
To counterweight the supplies of gas and oil, Lukoil and Slavneft (RU) took shares
(majority) in Belarusian refineries (including the Novopolostsk refinery) , in
Brestgasapparat as well as in the distribution.
Sometimes Russian companies implement their threats of cutting energy supplies to Belarus
if bills remained unpaid.
- Russia needs the Belarusian territory as a transit zone for almost all import/exports
goods (natural corridor from the European Community to Russia ) and for the exportation of
natural gas to neighbour countries- 4 Russian pipelines are going through Belarus- . Since
1997, a gas pipeline is operating from the Yamal region to Western Europe, longing
Ukraine. Poland and Ukraine are well independent and tax highly any transit of Russian
goods/fuel through their territories when Belarus has no trade barrier with Russia.
- Russia has a nuclear industry starving for new orders and a great amount of nuclear
engineers searching for work.
- Russia with its nuclear industry can offer know how, technical assistance and human
Belarus has rising debt with Russia and faces a position of "owning
favour" to Russia.
Funding sources ?
- Russia is known as the banker of Belarus; there is tied a co-operation Belarus/Russia
through the Central Bank of Russia; the Belarus Central Bank is in a very critical
situation at the moment.
- The funding could come from a foreign private bank associated with a Belarusian
government deal or foreign government/Belarusian government deal.
- Note that the Belarusian banking sector (banks and Stock Exchange) capital can be frozen
by governmental decree and used for governmental purpose.
The latest example can be found with the Stock exchange shake-up... During the first
week of May, the Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazetta reported "...Belarusian Stock
Exchange's future is highly questionable since the Belarusian president is about to decree
a merger of the BSE with the ICE (Interbank Currency Exchange),a department in the
national bank. The BSE stockholders share in the new Belarusian currency and Stock
Exchange is likely to be dissolved in the capital of the National Bank department, but
shareholder's don't have much of a choice. In case they don't agree with the president's
decision, the BSE will operate for a bout a year until corresponding amendments have been
introduced to the law on securities and stock exchanges which might strip it of its legal
According to an Executive of BelEnergo, member of the Committee to assess
possibilities for developing an NPP, the reactor would be of Russian design.
Besides this, questions put to various international institutions and foreign country
representatives in Minsk, have not yet revealed any future involvement of western
companies in the project. (yet?)
For the past 6 years , Belarus has received US$590 million of international assistance
with all the same leitmotiv: "promoting democracy and market economy" sometimes
to " support the consequences of Chernobyl" but democracy remains a far away
Today, due to a no reform policy, donors are leaving and the Republic is more and more
isolated. The European parliament resolution stresses that no co-operation may be
undertaken until clear steps toward respect for human rights and legal reforms are taken.It
has been taken into consideration by most of the EU countries except by Germany and
Austria who are clearly increasing their co-operation with Belarusian authorities (on the
official level and on a private business base). As for the American position, it is clear
since 1996 and emphasises support to environmental activities and to non-governmental
The energy policy:
USS 50 mln from international funding have been spend the last 6 years to improve the
energy sector (restructuring, training staff, legislation) to which it should be added a
certain amount (unknown) provided by the Belarusian government itself. These projects are
often failing for there is no follow up, no new investment made once the international
funding is over, and the local regulation isn't adapted to make things getting better.
According to a representative of Tacis(28),
"there is no real energy policy which deserve that name in Belarus."
Nevertheless, the main directions of the " Energy Plan until 2010"
adopted in 1996 by the Cabinet of Ministers, carries out recommendations discussed in
It emphasises the use of natural gas, a better energy efficiency system, the
development of renewable energy sources, the use of local and cheap energy sources,, the
development of a technical-science programme to solve the consumption of energy in the
lightning system, high effective heating-gas technology. So if in the future, the
situation would come to change in Belarus, existing proposals in the "Energy Plan
until 2010", would be implemented.
The idea to solve the energy problem is to build a nuclear power plant regardless of
the consequences of Chernobyl and the disastrous economical situation of the country. This
would leave the country in the same dependence as experienced nowadays: Belarus would
still need to import a technology and nuclear fuel which it doesn't have. Not mentioning
the very high expenses and long term planning energy policy in which such a choice would
caught the country.
By December 1998, the parliament will discuss the legislation draft on the use of nuclear
By January 1st, 1999, the committee of experts to assess reasons to develop nuclear power
will give its report back to the Authorities.
In spite of the heavy consequences of the Chernobyl accident the country is planning to
build a nuclear power plant. Within 6 months, a decision will be taken.
Eleven million people are experiencing everyday's dictatorship and many
different form of repression(29). Political
culture and public participation process are two elements unknown for the Belarusian
people. In such a context who is going to launch a public debate about Belarus taking the
nuclear path ?
In this section we try to specify our recommendations to different target groups.
Recommendations to investors:
Risks exist for all investors in the Belarusian economy of seeing their capital frozen as
a result of a governmental decree, any day. Investors and donors should avoid any direct
transfer of fund to Belarus banking system to prevent any undesired consequences to take
place such as funds been withdrawn from their original purpose and reallocated;
In particular attention should be brought to recent western investment/loan to Belarusian
- Spanish Bank, Sabadel just approved a US$ 25 mln credit line
for Belarus to finance Spanish exports to Belarus. An agreement in this regard has been
signed by Sabadel and Belarus'Belvneshekonombank. The credit line has been opened against
the Belarusian government's guarantee.(30).;
- In Dec. 1998,the EBRD has made the first equity investment
of US$ 3,025 mln in the Priorbank, Belarus' fifth-largest bank "aiming
to develop the banking system."(31);
Recommendations to the European Union and to European countries:
The European Union system and European countries;
- should keep the pressure on the Belarusian government as long as respects for human
rights and legal reforms aren't undertaken;
- should change partners and co-operate more with individuals, groups, schools and less
with governmental institutions;
- should develop and extend their co-operation with non-governmental organisation and with
free mass media (radio/newspaper);
- should set up and finance university and schools exchange programme between EU countries
and Belarus aiming to develop political awareness;
- should keep inviting on a regular basis opponent to the regime to testify on the
situation and broaden the sphere of invited people;
Recommendations to other foreign foundations outside the European Union:
- To not decrease their support to independent groups in Belarus and to even increase it;
Recommendations to foreign mass media:
- should give more attention to what is going on in Belarus;
- should develop co-operation with Belarusian independent media by;
-inviting journalists abroad;
-going to Belarus;
-providing them with independent information(32).
For the beginning of a civil society:
Recently the Aarhus convention on Public access to information, public
participation in decision-making and access to justice on all matters affecting peoples
environment was opened for signature. Efforts should be made to have Belarus signing the
convention (outside and inside the country). Financing should be provided to implement it
and to make it known to the Belarusian citizens.
Recommendations to Belarusian independent organisations:
- should maintain and increase their efforts to develop international contacts;
- should improve their skills in information dissemination to the rest of the population;
- should unify and develop a common strategy to launch an information campaign on the
building of a nuclear power plant in Belarus and should promote the use of renewable
Recommendations to everyone:
Everyone should have for a common goal to NOT let
become the most forgotten country in Europe.
Order of the Prime Minister of
the Republic of Belarus
to create a committee to assess reasons
to develop nuclear energy in Belarus.
March 31, 1998(33)
Researching reasons from different points of view, for the development of nuclear
energy in Belarus. For he purpose of creating a committee made up of the following members(34) .
In accordance with the situation in Belarus, the Committee should:
Analyse and assess
- data about the development of nuclear power in the world
- possibilities of providing Belarus with alternative energy and fuel resources based on
efficient use (and possibilities) of using them in Belarus)
- possibilities for using up to date steam-gas technologies and traditional energy
Present to the Council of Ministers of Belarus by January 1, 1999 material containing
- arguments for the development of nuclear power in Belarus including sociological,
economical and other economical and other significant factors
- resolutions to the problem of safe operation, shut-down, and decommissioning of nuclear
- the monitoring and storage of radioactive waste and all other factors.
All organisational and technical facilities are provided by the Academic Technical
Science Complex "SOSNY" National Academy of Science of Belarus.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus,
Drozdy crisis, analysis
Extracted from Minsk-News, June 23-29. By Sam Glebov.
Lukashenka' tactics: "political hooliganism"
The behaviour of the Belarusian Authorities over the embassy crisis (Diplomatic
residences Drozny crisis, end of June 1998) is truly unheard-of. There is probably no
other country in the entire world that has so blatanly violated the 1961 Vienna Convention
whereby every state must respect the peace and quiet of foreign diplomats. Because the
Belarusian government had broken the established rules so openly, that the western
governments weren't even sure how to react. the world has had to deal with many variations
of Zhrinovsky-style(35) political hooliganism
before, but this is the first time it has seen something like this.
It still remain uncertain, why the Belarusian authorities needed a confrontation
over a relatively minor issue. There is no definite answer to this question, although some
signs in the behaviour of the Belarusian authorities and some Russian politicians suggest
that Lukashenka may have needed to challenge the West to appear tough and strong in the
eyes of the Russian electorate, where he still hopes to run for the presidency of the
The efforts to achieve the international recognition of the 1996 constitution and
the Lukshenka parliament have brought no result. The position of the West isn't likely to
change, and the international isolation of Belarus will continue to deepen.In these
conditions the Belarusian leadership doesn't perceive the political losses resulting from
the diplomatic scandal as being very high. It may even think that its benefits may
substantially exceed losses.[...]
Without openly supporting President Lukashenka, the Russian leadership seems to
have decided to allow Lukashenka to reap the benefits of its confrontation with the West.
The reaction of dignity of the Russian Federation has been downplayed. Russian Foreign
Minister Yevgeney Primakov promised a reaction in the middle of last week, but it still
hasn't come. Absence of a clear response from the Russian government leaves the Russian
people free to think that Lukashenka's behaviour toward the diplomatic missions was in
In a country where political culture is low, political hooliganism isn't just
tolerated but even welcome. If Zhirinovsky can stage a brawl in the Russian parliament,
and doesn't just go unpunished but also increases his popularity with masses, why cannot
Lukashenka do the same ?
1. List of sources: Interfax, the biggest non- governmental
information agency. They provide political; ecocnomical, financial and general news about
the CIS and Belarus. Contact: Interfax. Karla Marxa 13 a room 4, tel : (375) 17 22206896,
e-mail: email@example.com; "Minsk News" an 8 page English
newspaper publishing weekly articles translated from Belarusian daily papers.Minsk News
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org -Tableau de Bord, Poste d'Expansion
Economique prés l'Ambassade de France à Minsk, Juil. 97.EBRD headquarters in London. International
Technical Assistance to the Republic of Belarus, 1992-96 .UNDP.Minsk News,
-Meetings with the TACIS Delegation in Belarus, British Embassy, French Embassy, US
Embassy, German Embassy, Embassy of Russia, the World Bank, the EBRD, the United Nations
-Telephone conversations with the Embassy of Italy, Embassy of Japan, Embassy of Denmark
in Russia, Embassy of India, the International Monetary Fund, Executive of BelEnergy
2. Drozdy Crisis, analysis p....
3. Sources: United Nations Development programme,
Ledger of Approved Project Budgets for the month of May 1998. Tableau de Bord,
Poste d'Expansion Economique pres l'Ambassade de France a Minsk, Juil. 97.EBRD
headquarters in London. International Technical Assistance to the Republic of Belarus,
1992-96 .UNDP.Minsk News, May-June 1998, The World Bank, Belarus resident
mission, newsletter. April 1998.
4. CIS; Commonwealth of Independent States
5. humanitarian aid - will be mention as HA further
6. apart from CIS countries
7. Press-release BelAPAN.
8. After a long crisis between the president
Lukashenka and the Foundation (from March 97 to September) the Belarusian government froze
2 bank accounts and confiscated property belonging to the foundation worth US$ 3000)
Sources: Belarusian Soros Foundation web-site.
9. BelaPAN News Agency Bulletin N 19, 20 Feb. 1998.
10. : Market Opportunities to Invest in Belarus. Ministry
of Economic and Foreign Affairs. Minsk 1996.
12. GEC-Alsthom is a consortium UK-FR business,which main activity
is heavy engineering in the nuclear indusrty.
14. Minsk News. May 5-11 1998
15. Minsk News-June 2-8 1998.
16. Minsk News 19-25, 1998.
17. Rem: it is an insurance for the German business coming to
Belarus, if they fail, this bank will pay back the bankruptcy of the project; It creates a
security for German companies and encourage them to invest in Belarus; the UK have closed
this export credit insurance and in general other countries too.
18. : Market Opportunities to Invest in Belarus. Ministry
of Economic and Foreign Affairs. Minsk 1996.
19. Sources: Belorusskaya Gazeta, May 1998.
20. bacteria in the ground to destroy radioactivity
21. sometimes called: parliament
22. Brochure published in 1997 by R. Ignatichev, Chamber
of Representative of the National Assembly of Belarus- "Energy & Exports
23. this Ministry doesn't exist any longer. Today, it's known as : BelEnergo(
means :Belarus Energy Concern)
24. See map in appendix
25. The currency rate is so irregular that it is impossible to
convert into other currency.
26. Appendix 1
27. Director of the Belarusian Institute of Radiation Safety
'Belrad'; "Impact of radiation on the health of children in Belarus".
28. Sources: Tacis representation in Minsk
29. See press Review.
31. EBRD press-release, Dec.18 1997
32. Most of the Belarusian newspapers cannot afford to send their
journalists abroad to cover international events.
33. This is a non-professional translation.
34. The Committee is made of 34 members. They include members from
the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Industry, the
ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Labour, the Academy of Science, the Institute of
Geology, the Institute of Radiation Safety, BelEnergo and six other institutions.
Translator's note:this gives a ratio of 28 unpartial or pronuclear groups to 6 opposing
35. Zhrinovsky is an authoritarian Russian politician
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