Belarus, December 21−24, 2020. Belarus will receive a $0.5 billion loan from Russia by the end of the year and the same amount in 2021. The first unit of the BelNPP is reconnected to the grid after testing, and the Belarusian authorities also plan to build a new station. The Interior Ministry has created a database of protesters. The Belarusian authorities are ambitious to create their own vaccine against COVID-19; experts believe that this will take three years. More than 2/3 of companies assess the economy of Belarus negatively.
Russia approves a $1 billion loan to Belarus
The Russian government approved a draft agreement on providing Belarus with a $1 billion loan in 2020−2021. The corresponding order was signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
The Russian loan will be provided in several tranches. The first tranche of the loan in an amount equivalent to $0.5 billion will go to Belarus by the end of 2020, and the second tranche in the same amount is scheduled for 2021. The loan will be paid in Russian rubles. The loan term is up to 10 years.
Earlier, Lukashenko negotiated a $1.5 billion loan with Russian President Putin at a meeting in Sochi on September 14.
The first $500 million arrived in Belarus in October.
The first unit of BelNPP is reconnected to the network after testing
After the scheduled shutdown on December 3 and all the necessary tests, the first unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant was reconnected to the grid on December 21. The power unit reached 50% capacity (turbine generator capacity is 500 MW).
At the second stage of pilot industrial operation, the first power unit will be brought to 100% capacity (turbine generator capacity is 1190 MW). According to the Minister of Energy of Belarus Viktor Karankevich, the work at the second power unit of the Belarusian NPP is now 75% complete.
Karankevich also informed that Belarusian experts will assess the prospects for the construction of a second nuclear power plant in Belarus in 2021.
He added that government bodies are conducting exploration work to prepare the necessary materials and justifications. The conclusions of the Ministry of Energy based on the results of this work will be presented for consideration by the government and the head of state.
Alexander Lukashenko announced the need to build a second nuclear power plant in the country on November 6. He substantiated the need for a new project for the construction of a nuclear power plant by the fact that then there will be enough electricity to get away from dependence on hydrocarbons.
Ministry of Internal Affairs created a database of protesters
The Belarus 1 TV channel reported that the Ministry of Internal Affairs has created a database of protesters. The state TV channel also said that the authorities are able to identify users of protest communities on Telegram.
The card index contains a maximum of information about everyone who has ever taken or is taking part in riots or «aimless wanderings» in the capital.
The database contains such data as gender, age, region, place of work, study and hobbies. It is stated that the system «can automatically prepare reports on participants in the riots.»
In addition, an operational and situational headquarters is working around the clock in Minsk. According to the representative of the Minsk police Alexander Kupchenya, the main places of protest activity are under constant video surveillance.
Belarus needs three years to develop a vaccine against coronavirus
Director of the Institute of Biophysics and Cell Engineering of the National Academy of Sciences Andrei Goncharov, on the air of the Belarus 1 TV channel, predicted that the country would need three years to create a vaccine against coronavirus. Two vaccinations will be needed, and possibly every year.
Goncharov explained that the development of a Belarusian vaccine is now at the planning stage. Scientists have decided on the technologies to work with and are now choosing strains of coronavirus, conducting their genomic sequencing.
The working group that creates the vaccine was formed a month ago. Clinical trials will be conducted in Gomel and Minsk on the basis of two universities.
«We take already known vaccine technologies and adapt them for use. The effectiveness of the vaccine should be between 70 and 80%. But it is still difficult to say what exactly it will be. We have to wait for the results of testing vaccines that are already on the market, then we will understand what we can achieve and set a certain level for ourselves,» Goncharov said.
According to Goncharov, the development of a prototype vaccine will take approximately one and a half years. Preclinical trials will take half a year, followed by clinical trials. In general, it takes three years to develop a vaccine, the scientist concluded.
The creation of a Belarusian vaccine against coronavirus will require about $1.9 million from the state budget, Lukashenko said last week. According to him, for the implementation of this project, the country needs a little money, which will quickly pay off.
More than 2/3 of companies assess the economy of Belarus negatively
Over two-thirds of companies believe that the Belarusian economy is in bad shape. Young businesses and residents of Minsk are most pessimistic. These are the results of a survey by SATIO.
69% of companies answered that the economy is bad. 25% - neither bad nor good. 6% - good. Another 6% found it difficult to answer. In Minsk, 89% share a negative assessment.
State-owned companies and companies with a staff of 51 to 200 people tend to assess the situation positively. The fact that everything is bad is most often said by wholesalers.
More than three-quarters of private companies and almost half of state-owned companies expect economic deterioration. This is 73% of all respondents. 18% believe that nothing will change. 9% are optimists. 11% found it difficult to answer.
A total of 420 companies from all over the country participated in the survey. Owners, top managers, directors answered questions. Of all the participants, 14% are public sector, 9% are private traders with a share of foreign capital, 78% are just private traders. 44% are from Minsk. 27% have a revenue exceeding $200 thousand.