European Union leaders have offered Belarus’ president, Alexander Lukashenko, $9 billion if he releases political prisoners and holds regular democratic elections, reports EU Observer.Lukashenko would not have to step down as part of the deal, but it is expected that the authoritarian leader would be ousted if he held EU and U.S. recognised elections.
The offer is $6 billion more than the EU previously offered him to hold elections.
Polish prime minister Donald Tusk announced the proposal today saying that the funds would be raised via loans from two EU banks and the IMF.
The new move may be seen as the EU attempting to jostle for influence in the country against Russia. It also comes as a little bit of a shock given that the Associated Press reported this week that the Belarus delegation boycotted an EU summit this week after Lukashenko was not personally invited. The summit aimed to discuss the relationship between the EU and Eastern block countries.
The EU previously offered Lukashenko $3 billion in December to hold elections. He reacted by cracking down harder on his opposition while EU officials were harassed by police in Minsk.
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