On May 4, 2021, Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko reported to Alexander Lukashenko. The subject of financing anti-COVID measures and the support of doctors and medical staff working in red zones was touched upon. During the reporting, Lukashenko called the Europeans and Americans the worst of scoundrels and said that they did not help Belarus in any way in the fight against the coronavirus. Here is a direct quote:
«I was informed during my trip that there were some problems (if there are any, of course) in the financing of measures to fight COVID. Of course, we spent a lot of money. The Europeans and Americans are the worst of scoundrels. They didn’t help us in any way. Although both the WHO and the UN constantly talk about the need to support someone and so on. Well, they didn’t help and don’t need to, and we don’t ask them to. No, the screws need to be tightened and the situation here must be made worse. How are we doing here? The main thing is that we have treated and will continue to treat our people. And, God willing, that we get rid of this problem as we’re doing now. So that we support those doctors who still work in the red zones with COVID patients.»
At the beginning of the pandemic, Alexander Lukashenko did not hide his skepticism about coronavirus infection. He called it a psychosis, advised people not to buy medicine and personal protective equipment, and said that the situation in Belarus is stable. On March 16, 2020, after the border with Russia was closed due to coronavirus infection, Lukashenko gave advice on treating the disease with saunas, vodka, and tractors. But in the meantime, Belarus did not refuse humanitarian and financial assistance in the fight against coronavirus infection. iSANS analyzed the chronology of Lukashenko’s statements about coronavirus infection and how many times, in parallel, Belarus received anti-COVID assistance from the European Union and the U.S. Remember that the first case of coronavirus infection COVID-19 in Belarus was officially confirmed on February 28, 2020.
A month after the first case of coronavirus in Belarus, on March 28, 2020, information appeared on the website of the State Department that the U.S. Government will allocate $247 million in emergency medical and humanitarian assistance to help countries in need to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the countries to receive financial assistance was Belarus, which was allocated $1.3 million. On the same day, Lukashenko announced that ice and hockey are the best anti-viral medicine.
The first death from coronavirus in Belarus was registered on March 30. The victim was 75-year-old Viktor Dashkevich. At a meeting Lukashenko called him a «poor fellow» and also spoke about the doctors infected with the coronavirus, whom he criticized for «carelessness,» as they did not take necessary precautions when working with patients.
On April 8, 2020, High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell said that the Belarusian authorities had turned to the European Union for help in overcoming the coronavirus infection. According to the diplomat, the discussion was about financial assistance at the level of 60 million euros.
On April 24, 2020, a convoy of humanitarian aid from Poland arrived in Minsk. Poland transferred to Belarus about 50,000 liters of disinfectant, 30,000 liters of antiseptic, 100,000 surgical masks, and a Polish drug for the treatment of coronavirus infection called Arechin. In turn, on April 30, Lukashenko held a meeting on the use of humanitarian aid. At the meeting, Lukashenko called the suppliers of humanitarian aid decent people and demanded that the aid reaches their intended beneficiaries.
On May 7, 2020, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United States Agency for International Development delivered 25 boxes of antiseptic to the National Scientific and Practical Center for Transfusiology and Medical Biotechnology, as well as 1,500 liters of antiseptic, 1,160 liters of bactericidal soap, and 180 elbow dispensers to orphanages. On May 9, 2020, Alexander Lukashenko urged people not to condemn the country for holding the Victory Day parade, despite the global coronavirus pandemic. And on May 12, he announced at a meeting that he would demand that the Ministry of Health and doctors save lives.
On May 15, 2020, Great Britain donated protective suits to Belarusian military doctors to combat COVID-19.
On May 20, 2020, the U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), allocated additional funding to Belarus of $450,000 to assist the country in countering the COVID-19 outbreak. Thus, the total amount of assistance from the United States totaled $1.7 million. Also on May 22, 2020, the World Bank approved the allocation of a financial support package totaling 90 million euros to finance a project to respond to COVID-19 in Belarus.
On June 4, 2020, 47 trucks with 300 tonnes of humanitarian aid were delivered from Poland to Belarus to fight the COVID-19 epidemic. Among the cargo were ventilators, personal protective equipment, and medicine. On the same day, Belarusian military medics received 1,300 respiratory masks and 200 goggles from the U.S. Armed Forces.
On June 11, 2020, the European Investment Bank (EIB) approved the allocation of 670 million euros to provide assistance to seven EU neighboring countries, including Belarus.
On June 19, 2020, Lukashenko announced that the country would not fulfill the additional conditions of the International Monetary Fund.
«There are demands: you, they say, do as in Italy in the fight against the coronavirus. I do not want it to be the same situation in Belarus as in Italy. We have our own country and our own situation. The IMF continues to demand from us quarantines, isolation, and curfew. What kind of nonsense is this? We will not dance for anyone,» said Lukashenko.
On July 7, 2020, Lithuania sent 16,800 liters of disinfectant liquid to Belarus and 8,400 disposable gowns. The total value of the goods was 50,000 euros.
On July 13, 2020, the European Union and the World Health Organization delivered 455,500 pieces of personal protective equipment to medical institutions in the Minsk region to fight COVID-19. On July 23, 2020, the representative office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Belarus, with the support of the European Union, donated about 25,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to the State Customs Committee. On the same day, Lukashenko said that the fight against coronavirus at that time cost the Belarusian budget almost half a billion rubles. And on July 28, Lukashenko announced that he had no symptoms of coronavirus.
On September 11, 2020, the International Monetary Fund denied Belarus emergency funding to fight the coronavirus. The fund questioned guarantees of transparency of the expenditure of funds. For Belarus, the amount of such assistance was supposed to total $940 million.
On September 17, 2020, the Belarusian health care system received 250 oxygen concentrators from the WHO. The equipment, totaling $211,000, was supplied by the United States Agency for International Development through the WHO Support for Preparedness and Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic project.
On November 12, 2020, the WHO donated equipment for diagnostics and treatment of COVID-19 to the health care system of Belarus for a total of $257,000, funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
On April 27, 2021, Belarus received $850,000 worth of medical equipment under the EU Solidarity for Health project.
How much free foreign assistance did Belarus receive in 2020?
The report on the implementation of humanitarian projects in Belarus for 2020 states that humanitarian cooperation with Belarus was carried out by more than sixty foreign countries. Based on the report, the total amount of free foreign aid for Belarus amounted to $91.04 million, of which $45.32 million was given to the country in the form of funding and $45.72 million in the form of goods. The United States of America allocated the most aid to Belarus – $19 million; Switzerland helped Belarus with $14.81 million; Poland allocated $13.56 million; Germany – $11.1 million; Austria – $4.48 million; and Russia – $4.41 million.
Материал доступен на русском языке: «Девятнадцать миллионов долларов от США, тринадцать миллионов от Польши»