Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced today that he had decided to ban it A rise in consumer prices in response to “excessive” inflation across the economy, State media reported.
“As of today, price hikes have been banned. Prohibition!”, State news agency Belda quoted dictator Lukashenko at a meeting of government ministers, reprinted by international news agencies.
“It starts today, not tomorrow, but from today, we cannot raise prices by the end of the day,” Lukashenko said.
The president has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994 and is known for his eccentricities and extreme advice, such as drinking vodka daily to protect himself from the coronavirus, in apparent defiance of science.
“From October 6, all price hikes are prohibited. Banned. from today. Not from tomorrow, from today. So the price will not rise in the next 24 hours,” Lukashenko said at a meeting with officials.
He said consumer prices were “high” and up 18 percent year-on-year.
“Meat, milk, chicken… cost more. “There has been a shortage of eggs in Minsk recently,” says 68-year-old Lukashenko.
“The task is to bring the inflation rate back to 7-8 per cent next year,” he said.
Belarus, which borders Ukraine, is a staunch ally of Vladimir Putin’s Russia and allowed Moscow’s troops to use its territory 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 a severe post-election crackdown in 2020.
It should be remembered that Lukashenko, Russia’s main ally, released a video some time ago in which he appeared, ironically, cutting down a tree so that Europe would not “die from the cold” this winter.
The joke comes in poor taste as European countries, faced with exploding gas and electricity prices because of the conflict in Ukraine, fear shortages and ask their people for “moderate” energy. In the video, aired on national television, Lukashenko is seen with an ax in front of piles of felled trees.
“They won’t be allowed to freeze in Europe,” the Belarusian leader says with a laugh. “We will help our brothers. Maybe they will help us one day”, he adds, before splitting a trunk with a strong ax blow.
“Europe cannot be bitter at the moment. Whether it is fir or birch, the main thing is that they are warm,” Lukashenko added.
The sightings of the Belarusian leader come at a time when relations between European countries and Russia’s ally Minsk are particularly tense.
In the wake of the conflict in Ukraine, Russia, Europe’s biggest supplier of hydrocarbons, has sharply cut its gas supplies, sparking fears of shortages and rising prices.
This inflation of energy prices raises fears of a severe energy crisis in Europe starting this winter, prompting European governments to ask people and companies to reduce their consumption.