MINSK, May 28 (RIA Novosti) - Belarus has turned down a new loan tranche from Russia worth $500 million, insisting that it be denominated in dollars rather than Russian rubles, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Thursday.
"We offered Belarus $500 million, as a new tranche of the Russian loan, in Russian rubles, not in U.S. dollars. Belarus refused," Kudrin said, adding that Russia was still continuing talks with its ex-Soviet neighbor on the terms of the loan tranche.
Belarus received the first $1 billion of a $2 billion loan from Russia in November 2008. In March 2009, the ex-Soviet republic received another $500 million.
Kudrin said that Belarus was currently experiencing problems with its gold and foreign exchange reserves.
"Today the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is being maintained at a set level. For this purpose, Belarus is spending its gold and foreign exchange reserves. In the first quarter, Belarus spent over $2 billion in gold and foreign exchange reserves to keep the exchange rate stable. This is more than one third of the country's gold and foreign currency reserves," Kudrin said.
Kudrin said if Belarus spent as much in the next quarter then it would run out of foreign currency by the third quarter of 2009.