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Lukashenko, this happened thanks to his decision not to in- troduce a nationwide quarantine in the initial period of the coronavirus pandemic. “There was some luck in this misfor- tune. The coronavirus put the economy worldwide on hold and it just happened that one of the world’s most powerful companies is based in Belarus. It is our luck that we chose the right tactics and did not shut down the country,” Lukashenko said. Indeed, Alexander Lukashenko refused to introduce a nationwide lockdown. During the past few months, he has been making somewhat controversial statements, calling fears of the coronavirus epidemic a ‘psychosis’ and suggesting that vodka or a sauna would help combat the disease. “No- body is going to die of coronavirus in our country. I’m an- nouncing this publicly. It’s my firmly held conviction,” Lukashenko said, speaking during a press conference on April 13. Against this background, the BNBC construction has also been taking place without delay. The President also made it clear that any delays would incur substantial losses for the country’s treasury, which have to repay a $ 650 million loan provided by Chinese state banks. “By whatever means, we should not allow any delays. The enterprise must be built on


time because it must work, become profitable, and the mon- ey that we borrowed (from China) will, of course, will have to be gradually repaid (by 2032),” Lukashenko said. However, there are mounting fears that the project could be negatively affected by the ongoing political unrest. Belarus has been in turmoil after the disputed presidential election on 9 August that led to mass protests and arrests. The Belarus government responded to demonstrations with unprecedented violence, according to a statement by UN human rights experts re- leased on 1 September. The UN experts received reports of 450 documented cases of torture and other maltreatment of individuals. The police violence has prompted the opposition to change tactics and call for a nationwide strike.


As of early September, the strikes have affected ten major state-owned companies in Belarus, including one of the world’s major potash fertiliser producers Belaruskali. As a re- sult of the protests, the Belarusian ruble lost more than 10% of its value against the euro and the US dollar over the last month. During this period, its exchange rate slumped by 27% against the US dollar and 33% against the euro. This


▶ ALL ABOUT FEED | Volume 28, No. 8, 2020 23


Layout of the BNBC project, which consists of 14 feed and feed additive plants.


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