IHT: «This former Soviet republic is going through

We offer you the translation fragments Michael Shvirts article in today's edition of the International Herald Tribune.

The queue in front of currency exchange offices at the supermarket Crown has grown to 52 people, and many have begun to lose hope. Some waited for three days and spent the night in cars, more and more desperate to buy dollars and euros.

This former Soviet republic is going through. Prices go up, and the Belarusian ruble lost value. Some imported foods have already paznikats from store shelves, the people said in the capital.

Although the size of the current crisis remains unclear, foreboding spreads, increased mysterious bomb blast in a subway station last week that killed 13 people and wounded nearly two hundredth

It appears that the bomb attack has shaken confidence in the long-term authoritarian president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, who claims that he is the only guarantor of security and stability in the country. But the recent economic difficulties may be much greater challenge than the explosion itself.

In the post-Soviet countries such as Belarus is difficult to find a more visual signs of the crisis, than people in line, so the appearance of the crowds in front of currency exchange offices awakened memories of years of shame and needs before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and beyond. (…)

The pursuit of hard currency due in part to the fear of the threat of devaluation of the Belarusian ruble exchange rate which the government maintains a fixed level. But even in normal circumstances, people prefer foreign currency for large transactions. (…)

For nearly 17 years as president, Mr. Lukashenko has built the economy abapertuyu on the Soviet model of central control, at the same time suppressing the independent entrepreneurship. While his supporters praise him for what he is defended by sharp fluctuations in Belarus, which became the participation of neighboring Russia and Ukraine, the opponents say that the system has generated nothing but stagnation.

In these days Belarus to stay afloat, requires foreign charity. But now it seems that the two main donors of Mr Lukashenko, Russia and the European Union have left him. (…)

Since October, the foreign currency reserves of Belarus fell more than $ 2 billion to a level of $ 3.7 billion, according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund. (…)

According to economists, the problems are taken primarily from the efforts of Mr Lukashenko to mobilize support for the presidential election in December. He put his hand into the state treasury to raise salaries and pensions and increase subsidies for housing and utilities and major industries. (…)

Economists, including the IMF researchers are calling for an immediate spending limits. But significant reforms, such as wage cuts would be "politically unacceptable for the current government," said independent economist Sergei Chaly from Minsk. "It would be contrary to all the pre-election rhetoric."

Instead, Mr. Lukashenko makes it clear that the protests in December, the current economic problems of the country and the bombing last week were part of a conspiracy to undermine his authority. (…)

The lack of official information about the state of the economy heats the assumption that more government can hide from the public, especially after the explosion in the subway.

Rumors that Mr. Lukashenko and his security forces may be behind the explosion in the subway, propagate further, despite the absence of any evidence.

"The economic situation in the country is very serious, the price of everything went up, and salaries have remained at the same level," — said the 19-year-old student Anna Asyanenka. "This is a was therefore, to divert attention, "- she added in connection with the explosion. (…)

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