Former businessman and political prisoner Syarhei Skrabets tells in the program “Hot Comment” how Belarusian money-bags got rich, and why they cannot be called oligarchs.
Belarusian moneybags can be called millionaires, but they cannot be called oligarchs, says the former businessman and former member of the House of Representatives, former political prisoner Syarhei Skrabets.
“Oligarchy is a ruling of a small group of people, who have power and money. This allows to serve this group, do everything in the interests of this group, not paying attention to the interests of society, of the population. So, to say that we have an oligarchy would be a mistake. We have one oligarch, whom we all know and who has now prolonged his authority for 5 years,” said Mr. Skrabets.
Belarusian millionaire Yury Chyzh, Alyaksandr Shakutsin, Pavel Topuzidis are on the top rich list of Belarus, but they are not oligarchs, because they have no power. These people are, in fact, room service, because they cannot even freely dispose of their money, which actually belongs to one oligarch – the head of Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka, stressed the former political prisoner.
Belarus has a lot of millionaires, they are all officials in high positions, as they have 2-3 houses in Drazdy and property, which can be estimated in millions of dollars, said the former businessman.
“Business of Topuzidis was mafia-based, because he traded in tobacco. Peftiyeu sold weapons under the cover of authorities. As to Chyzh and Shakutsin, their business is not a mafia-linked, it has to do with oil, energy resources that come to Belarus from Russia,” said Skrabets.
The division of business sphere was not very easy, as many businessmen had been forced to leave the country, said the ex-MP, or disappeared like Anatol Krasouski. The people who agreed to work under the terms of the authorities, gained access to the Belarusian market under the control of Lukashenka’s family and thus agreed that their money will be transferred to the President’s personal fund.
“And they were allowed to engage in big business like energy, weapons, items of domestic consumption, hotel chains, supermarkets, and so forth,” said the former businessman.
Skrabets compares the size of the Belarusian President’s fund with the size of the budget — about $20-30 billion.
“I do not believe that the money is cash in suitcases in the National Bank – it is in operation. It is needed for the elections, some of it is to maintain the current government and the people who are engaged in elections. The money goes to the residence construction — the newly-constructed residence is valued at approximately $ 5billion,” noted the former political prisoner.
It is impossible to control this money, as it is accumulated in offshore accounts and is operating not only in Belarus, but in the markets of China, Arab countries and so on. Western partners will not influence Lukashenka, restricting the movement of his capital abroad, as they are also interested to earn money, believes Skrabets.
“For example, I think that big money has been paid for the lifting of sanctions (on Belarusian officials and companies – Ed.),” said the ex-businessman.