Belarus Behind on Bills ... So Russia Cuts Its Power
Russia's power supply accounts for 10% of country's power
By Tim Karan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2011 4:52 PM CDT
An elderly Belarusian woman sells dill under a street bridge to earn money in Minsk, Belarus.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

(Newser) – You know what happens when you don't pay your electricity bill. What happens when a country doesn't? Basically the same thing: Russia has cut electricity supplies to Belarus in half over unpaid bills, and may shut off supplies—which fulfill 10% of Belarus's needs—completely. Belarus is in the middle of its worst economic crisis since the fall of the USSR and confirms that it owes Russia $54 million. The BBC reports that the country has asked Moscow for a $1.2 billion bailout and the IMF for an emergency loan up to $8 billion.

In the meantime, it's raising its main interest rate from 14% to 16% and freezing prices of some food staples through July 1. The government in Minsk says it hopes to remedy the energy situation "as quickly as possible," but an energy spokeswoman for the ministry says that "it is important to note that the country has certain problems with its currency." A source at Russia's energy export monopoly says Belarus has until June 19 to pay.