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Belarus economy appears to unravel in wake of terror attack, crackdown

A terrorist attack in Belarus last week and dire warnings aimed at the opposition by President Lukashenko prompted many Belarussians to exchange currency and stockpile supplies.

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A week after a powerful bomb killed 13 people in a Minsk subway station, and President Alexander Lukashenko warned of stiff punishment for anyone who spreads "panic," Belarus's state-guided economy appears to be unraveling. Now, worried Belarussians are emptying shop shelves of durable goods and line up outside banks in hopes of converting their rubles into dollars or euros.

Experts say the economic crisis was on its way even before last week's deadly terror blast rocked Mr. Lukashenko's 17-year-old regime and rattled the population, mainly due to deteriorating relations with the Kremlin, Belarus's traditional sponsor.

Promises of financial aid from the European Union disappeared after Lukashenko launched a brutal – ongoing – crackdown against the independent media and his political opposition over allegations that he rigged the December polls in which he was re-elected to a fourth term with an improbable 80 percent of the votes.

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