Inflation in Belarus amounted to 13.8 percent for the first eight months this year and will soar to 19 percent by the end of the year, President Alexander Lukashenko said at a government meeting Thursday.
Growing prices have neutralized all the efforts to raise wages and pensions, pushing the real income of the population below the level of last year, by about 3 percent, he told officials in charge of the economy.
The president blamed Western countries’ sanctions and anti-records of inflation in other countries, among other factors, for the rise in prices in his country.
Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994, is known for folksy eccentricities and radical suggestions, such as drinking a shot of vodka daily to ward off the coronavirus.
“From Oct. 6, all price increases are forbidden. Forbidden! From today. Not from tomorrow, from today. So that prices aren’t driven up in the next 24 hours,” Lukashenko told a meeting with officials.
“Meat, dairy products, poultry… are getting more expensive. In Minsk there has been a shortage of eggs in recent days,” Lukashenko, 68, said.
“The task is to return to an inflation rate of 7-8% by next year,” he added.
Belarus, which borders Ukraine, is a staunch ally of Russia and allowed its territory to be used by Moscow’s troops to launch its military campaign against Kyiv in February.
Belarus has been hit with a wave of Western sanctions for aiding Russia’s military action in Ukraine and for a ferocious post-election crackdown in 2020.