SOCHI, September 14. /TASS/. Russia’s new loan worth $1.5 billion to Belarus cannot be interpreted as Moscow's interference in the affairs of Minsk, Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday following the talks between the presidents of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko.
"This should not be in any way interpreted as interference in the internal affairs of [Belarus], we are totally against it," the Kremlin spokesman said.
Peskov was asked to comment on the words of the ex-presidential candidate of Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya that this money is allegedly given as a loan to Lukashenko and the Belarusian people will not pay it back. One of the reporters also recalled the loan Russia had provided to Ukraine shortly before the coup d'etat in that country. In response, Peskov said that Tikhanovskaya's words are "a fundamentally wrong presentation of the issue."
"The loan, like previously provided loans, is not issued to President Lukashenko, it is given to Belarus, our great ally, our brotherly country," the Kremlin spokesman stressed.
"Russia has supported and will continue to support the Belarusian economy in this regard, it cannot be otherwise," he concluded.
Peskov also noted that part of the new loan is intended to refinance the country’s old debts. "The President [Putin] said this. It has been agreed to allocate a new loan worth $1.5 billion to Belarus. Part of this loan will be used to refinance the funds that were borrowed earlier and [the other] part is new funds," the Kremlin spokesman said.
Earlier on Monday, President Vladimir Putin announced after the talks with Lukashenko, that Russia will provide a $1.5 bln loan to Belarus.
He noted that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin had previously held successful negotiations in Minsk on all areas of interaction between the two countries, in particular on financial cooperation.
In late August, Lukashenko announced that Belarus would hold talks with Russia on refinancing the republic's state debt in the amount of $1 billion. Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov later said that the terms and amounts of the loan were being discussed at the level of financial departments.
Belarus’ Finance Minister Yuri Seliverstov previously noted that in total this year the country must pay about $3.6 billion in foreign currency national debt and $2 billion of that amount had already been paid. According to the republic’s Finance Ministry, as of July 2020, Belarus’ foreign debt amounted to $18 billion.