Belarus cuts zeroes off its currency amid economic woes

MINSK, Belarus – Belarus has redenominated its currency, cutting four zeroes off its face value, as the country struggles with recession.

Friday’s redenomination is the third since the nation of 10 million became independent after the 1991 Soviet collapse. The Belarusian ruble, which had traded at 20,000 to the dollar before the move, now stands at 2 rubles a dollar.

Most Belarusians met the news without enthusiasm. Igor Trofimchuk, a 46-year-old engineer, said it “definitely didn’t make us richer.” Retiree Tatiana Protasova, 73, said it wouldn’t hide a steady rise in consumer prices.

Belarus’s economy, which depends on neighbouring Russia for cheap energy and subsidies, shrank 4 per cent last year. It’s forecast to contract 3 per cent this year.

President Alexander Lukashenko’s government has sought a $3 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund.