MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has fired his Cabinet, accusing it of failing to fulfill his orders.
Lukashenko emphasized that a strong economy is essential for Belarus to maintain and strengthen its independence. He also warned Saturday that Belarus will not turn into a “vassal” of its giant neighbor, Russia, even though he underlined the importance of close ties with Moscow.
Belarus has long depended on cheap energy and other subsidies from Russia.
Lukashenko has ruled Belarus with an iron hand for 24 years, maintaining rigid Soviet-style controls over economy and showing little tolerance for dissent or independent media.
He said he fired Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov’s Cabinet for failing to execute his orders and for paying too little attention to the country’s social needs. He appointed banker Sergei Rumas to succeed Kobyakov.