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Putin throws $1.5 billion lifeline to embattled Belarus leader

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Russian President Vladimir Putin bestowed a $1.5 billion loan on Belarus on Monday in a gesture of support for its leader Alexander Lukashenko, who flew to entreat his patron for help after five weeks of mass protests demanding his resignation.

A day after more than 100,000 protesters took to the streets of Minsk with chants of “You’re a rat”, Lukashenko met Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in urgent need of help to maintain his 26-year grip on power.

“First of all, I want to thank you… personally thank you and all Russians, all those, and I will not list them, who were involved in supporting us during this post-election time,” Lukashenko said.

Putin gave few details about the new loan, which he said Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin had agreed during a recent visit to the Belarusian capital.

The Kremlin later said some of the new money would be used to refinance earlier loans. It also said the two presidents had agreed to boost cooperation in trade and had discussed energy supplies for Belarus during nearly four hours of talks.

via Reuters

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