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Aug 23, 2015

Belarus leader pardons six jailed opposition figures

MINSK (Reuters) – Belarussian President Aleksander Lukashenko has pardoned six jailed opposition figures, including Nikolai Statkevich who was imprisoned after running against him for the presidency in 2010, his administration said on Saturday.

Lukashenko, who has been in power in the ex-Soviet republic since 1994 and is running for a fifth consecutive term in an election in October, had been motivated by humane principles, his press service said.

May 6, 2015

Ukraine leader warns of worsening conflict, peace envoys more hopeful

MINSK/KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko warned on Wednesday of a growing threat of large-scale military action in the east of the country, but peace envoys reported some progress toward full implementation of a fragile ceasefire agreement.

Earlier Ukraine’s military said five of its servicemen had died in the past 24 hours, while pro-Russian separatist officials said three rebel fighters had been injured in the same period in attacks from the Ukrainian side.

Mar 19, 2015

Belarus surprises rivals with China potash deal

MINSK/MOSCOW, March 19 (Reuters) – Crisis-hit Belarus
reached an unexpected agreement with China on Thursday over 2015
prices for the crop nutrient potash, undercutting Russian and
North American rivals who were negotiating for higher rates.

Potash prices collapsed after Russia’s Uralkali
broke away from a joint trading venture with the Belarussian
Potash Company (BPC) in 2013. They have failed to fully recover,
amid competition between global producers who had previously
maintained high discipline on pricing.

Feb 20, 2015

After Ukraine mediation, EU looks to embrace Lukashenko

MINSK/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s hosting of Ukraine peace talks may be having a side effect — thawing relations between the European Union and a man the West calls “Europe’s last dictator”.

A meeting in Minsk on Friday with the foreign minister of neighbouring Latvia, travelling in his capacity as chair of the EU ministerial council, marked another step in what diplomats say is an accelerating process that could see some easing of sanctions on Lukashenko and even an invitation to a May summit.

Feb 13, 2015

To reach Ukraine accord: high diplomacy, ‘dirty games’ and pig’s fat

MINSK, Feb 13 (Reuters) – The talks lasted more than 17
hours, during which a couple of “buckets” of coffee were drunk,
and took place in what Ukraine’s foreign minister, with some
understatement, described as a “difficult psychological
atmosphere”.

The ‘family photograph’ of participants at the start of the
four-power marathon in the Belarussian capital Minsk told much
of the story in advance: Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko
stood at one end of the line-up – with the leaders of Germany
and France keeping him well apart from Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Feb 1, 2015

Ukraine peace talks collapse, Kiev and separatists trade blame

MINSK/KIEV (Reuters) – Peace talks on Ukraine collapsed on Saturday after just over four hours with no tangible progress towards a new ceasefire but with Ukraine’s representative and separatist envoys angrily accusing each other of sabotaging the meeting.

Ukraine’s representative, former president Leonid Kuchma, left the talks in Minsk, Belarus, telling Interfax news agency that separatist officials had undermined the meeting by making ultimatums and refusing “to discuss a plan of measures for a quick ceasefire and a pull-back of heavy weapons”.

Jan 31, 2015

Ukraine, rebels gather for peace talks as fighting rages in east

MINSK/KIEV (Reuters) – A new round of peace talks were about to start on the Ukraine crisis on Saturday, even as fighting between Kiev government forces and pro-Russian separatists raged in the east, claiming civilian and military lives.

A Reuters reporter in the Belarussian capital saw the main participants in the so-called ‘contact group’ — including Ukrainian former president Leonid Kuchma, a Russian diplomat and rebel officials — arrive at Minsk airport and then drive off towards the city.

Jan 30, 2015

Ukraine peace talks aborted as civilians die in east

DONETSK, Ukraine/MINSK (Reuters) – Civilians were killed on both sides in heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine on Friday, while an attempt to reopen peace talks in neighboring Belarus was aborted before it began.

Rebel delegates flew to the Belarus capital Minsk, only to announce that no talks would take place on Friday and they were flying straight back to Moscow. Any talks would be the first since a five-month-old ceasefire collapsed with a new rebel advance last week.

Jan 29, 2015

Belarus may seek restructuring if hard to pay $4 bln debt-Lukashenko

MINSK, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Belarus might seek restructuring
of $4 billion of foreign- currency debt falling due this year if
repayment becomes difficult, Belarussian President Alexander
Lukashenko said on Thursday.

The surprise restructuring talk by the veteran Belarussian
leader triggered a fall of 27 cents to the dollar in the value
of Belarussian sovereign bonds, but Lukashenko told bondholders
not to worry about Minsk’s ability to service its debt.

Jan 14, 2015

Russia’s financial crisis may bury Putin’s Eurasian dream

MINSK/ALMATY/TBILISI (Reuters) – Growing damage from Russia’s financial crisis on neighboring former Soviet states could bury President Vladimir Putin’s dream of creating an economic union to rival the United States and European Union.

From Belarus on the European Union’s fringe to Kazakhstan on the border with China, some of those once firmly in Moscow’s grip are now questioning whether Russia has what it takes to lead.