Belarusian pres seeks to re-orient policy away from Russia

MINSK, May 29 (Prime-Tass) -- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko criticized Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin for his recent statement about Belarus and called for re-orienting Belarus' foreign and economic policy away from Russia towards other countries.

Kudrin, who is also a deputy prime minister, said Thursday he believed Belarus was not taking sufficient steps to stabilize its economy and added Russia would only provide the final, U.S. $500 million tranche of its $2 billion loan to Belarus if such steps were taken.

Lukashenko said he believed Kudrin's statement was aimed at creating "panic" in Belarus and added that Kudrin's position coincided with that of the Belarusian president's political enemies.

He went on to say that Belarus should not beg for the $500 million tranche from Russia and should seek other partners.

"If we're not successful in (our relations with) Russia, we should not kowtow, weep and cry," he said. "We should seek success elsewhere on the planet."

"We are an independent sovereign country and will do everything in our interest," he said. "This is why you should remember that there should be no begging and mooching."

Lukashenko also said that Belarus had recently signed a contract to supply sugar to Kazakhstan and suggested that Kazakhstan was a more favorable economic partner than Russia.



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