Belarusian President Vows To Stop Subsidizing Unproftable Farms

While visiting a farm in Minsk Oblast on September 1, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka reiterated his earlier warning that the government will scale down aid to the agricultural sector, and will subsidize only profitable farms, Belapan reported. Lukashenka elaborated by saying that subsidies will be given only for specific agricultural projects expected to yield a profit. "We will probably issue interest-free loans or even donate money" for such projects, he said. "We need an economy of the future. That's why we will be giving money only to those directors who are able to guarantee that the project will live up to their promises." The same day, Lukashenka also inaugurated a newly built school in Minsk Oblast, where he spoke about the education sector. Some Belarusian independent media reported that in Lukashenka's speeches, he notably failed to comment on a suggestion made last week by Russian Ambassador to Belarus Aleksandr Surikov that Russia might consider deploying nuclear weapons in Belarus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," August 28 and 29, 2007). Surikov's pronouncement made headlines in the world media. JM