“Crash of Belarus”, headlines Gazeta Wyborcza. Starved of foreign funds in the wake of president Alexander Lukashenko’s violent crackdown on the opposition during the 2010 elections, which has intensified since the 11 April subway bombing in Minsk, the Eastern European country is on the verge of economic breakdown, the Warsaw daily reveals. “Belarusians are buying out foreign currency, sugar, flour and buckwheat”, with “panic on the market” fuelled by rumours of imminent devaluation of the national currency. And Lukashenko’s room for manoeuvre is limited, Gazeta notes, because both the West and Russia “have him cornered and have set tough conditions”. In exchange for financial help, it is said that Moscow wants shares in the “most attractive Belarusian companies” including gas pipelines, car and fertiliser plants. Notwithstanding, Russia is the last hope for the regime in Minsk. However, according to a former Russian minister for economy Yevgeny Yasin, “Moscow will only help Lukashenko until it finds someone to replace him”.
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