National Bank of Ukraine didn’t let a Belarusian businessman buy BTA Bank due to EU sanctions
The National Bank of Ukraine refused to sell BTA Bank to the citizen of Belarus Nikolay Vorobey. The NBU decision was made on the basis that the applicant’s business reputation is not impeccable. The regulator explains that it took into account the decision of the EU Council that included Nikolay Vorobey in the list of persons to whom personal sanctions have been applied. He came under sanctions aimed at Belarusians who support the Lukashenko regime. The application of sanctions to a person is the basis for the loss of his impeccable business reputation during the term of the sanctions and three years after their lifting.
In addition, there were not enough documents and information to confirm the compliance of the applicant’s financial condition and the sources of his own funds.
Earlier, Nikolay Vorobey obtained permission from the Antimonopoly Authority of Ukraine to purchase a Ukrainian subsidiary bank of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank. Vorobey owns Absolutbank, deals with oil products (Interservice), and is one of the owners of the Bremino Group logistics company.
Last year, Vorobey acquired a controlling stake in the authorized capital of the Ukrainian company Prikarpatzapadtrans and received permission to supply Russian coal to Ukraine.
On December 17, the European Union adopted the third package of sanctions against the Belarusian authorities and business, including Vorobey. He is presented in the EU list as a co-owner of the Bremino Group, which has tax incentives and other forms of support from the Belarusian authorities. “Thus, he benefits from the Lukashenko regime and supports it,” the authors of the sanctions say.
Belarus and Russia agree on oil supplies
Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said that there is no tension in the oil and gas negotiations with Russia this year. Issues are resolved on a planned basis.
The process of signing contracts by suppliers is underway, they have already been signed with a number of large pipeline suppliers. The press service of the Transneft company declined to comment on this. They also refused to answer the question about the expected pumping volumes.
In the interview with Golovchenko, it was announced that the volume would be 18 million tons. The prime minister explained that the volume of oil refining at Belarusian refineries will be determined by economic expediency. The Russian side, he said, is ready to supply the maximum volume. According to the intergovernmental agreement, which was signed in 2007 and changed several times, the supply volumes from 2017 to 2024 can be up to 24 million tons.
By the end of each year, issues of oil and gas prices and supplies from Russia to Belarus become a bargaining chip in relations between the two countries. Lukashenko insists on the provision of favorable conditions, and the Russian side demands that he fulfill his earlier obligations and pay off the accumulating debts.
Russian government agencies are preparing an action plan in the Belarusian direction for 2021
Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Government Alexey Overchuk ordered that all government agencies prepare a draft action plan in the Belarusian direction in the first quarter of 2021.
Overchuk sent the corresponding letters to the head of the Ministry of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and the federal executive authorities.
The letters say that the draft action plan should be prepared in accordance with the instructions of Prime Minister Mishustin.
The action plan in the Belarusian direction should cover the economy, trade, industry, agriculture, healthcare, energy, transport, space research, tourism, sports, etc. In total, cooperation should be defined in 22 areas. The plan should be ready by the end of 2020.
It is not yet clear whether the action plan should repeat the roadmaps signed this year for the integration of the two countries into the Union State or create new ones.
Record low number of protesters detained in Minsk on Sunday marches
For the first time, centralized protests for the Sunday of December 27 were not announced by the opposition. Nevertheless, small groups of protesters took part in local rallies in residential areas of Minsk, as well as in other Belarusian cities. The number of detainees was the lowest since the start of protests in August. Human rights activists counted about 20 detainees.
It was the first Sunday when the subway stations were not closed and the mobile Internet was not turned off. Almost every Sunday, the Belarusians had no mobile Internet for an average of 4-5 hours during the protest actions. Belarusians first faced a full Internet shutdown on the day of the presidential election. Then from the evening of 9 to the morning of August 12, the Internet was completely disconnected for all Belarusian operators for a total of 31 hours and 45 minutes.
The Interior Ministry said it would strengthen security measures during the New Year holidays. This means that the citizens will face access control and inspection at the places of mass celebrations in the center of Minsk and other cities. In this regard, the press secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Olga Chemodanova expressed hope that citizens will understand the need for such measures.
More than 80% of Belarusian companies expect the economic situation to deteriorate
Most companies negatively assess the current state and development prospects of the Belarusian economy. Representatives of industry, construction, trade, and services took part in the poll, which was conducted by the Kastrychnitsky Economic Forum. They rated the state of the economy and development prospects from 1 (“very poor”) to 5 (“rapidly improving”).
The current state of the economy received an estimate of 2.25, and the prospects - 2.06.
Only 3.8% of companies chose the option “the situation is gradually improving”, and no one chose the option “the situation is improving rapidly”.
Overall, 81.6% of the companies surveyed expect the economic situation to deteriorate.
Another poll by SATIO showed that companies from small towns report problems less often than businesses in Minsk. That is, they experience the crisis less painfully.
In regional centers, as a rule, there are difficulties with deliveries from abroad. Regional exporters faced a decline in demand in other countries. Demand in the local market has also decreased. Another problem is internet disconnections. In addition, regional centers report a decrease in employee motivation. Minsk also notes the unstable ruble exchange rate, non-payments by customers, and reduced access to loans.
Capital companies give more pessimistic forecasts and more often consider the internal political crisis the most important problem.