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Published on 20 Dec 2010 - filed under Audio Slideshows.

The Big Retrofit

Virtually friendless and bankrupt, Minsk looks to create a more independent economy.

by Christina Karchevskaya

Though once the industrial hub of the Soviet Union, Belarus is not rich in natural resources – it is generally a flat country with small quantities of dolomitic limestone, granite, and potash. Much of its post-independence economy was sustained until 2007 by the subsidized import and market-priced export of Russian oil and natural gas. But Russia, which has huge political and economic influence on Belarus, has been raising its prices recently for the energy resources that have long propped up the economy of its western neighbor. Furthermore, Belarus is struggling to pull itself out of an economic slump triggered by the 2008 global financial crisis, which bankrupted the government. Under considerable pressure, the country is attempting to reinvigorate its working classes in the cities and countryside to build an economy independent of eastern or western influences.

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