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Iran Asks Russia For $2 Billion Loan After Widespread Protests


Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak speaks to the press after a "Trilateral Gas Talks" between the EU, Russia and Ukraine at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, October 28, 2019

Amid a harsh crackdown on protesters that has killed more than a hundred people since November 15, Iran has asked Russia to provide an additional $2 billion loan.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Saturday that Tehran is asking the loan for projects including the construction of thermal power plants, hydroelectric power plants, railroads and subway carriages.

"They're asking for about $2 billion... They say they were promised $5 billion in 2015... We had loans allocated to them, they ask us to bring the total amount up to $5 billion," Novak said, without providing further details.

Heavy U.S. sanctions have pushed Iran's economy into a deep recession, cutting off almost all its oil exports, which make up a significant chunk of its budget.

If Russia agrees to Iran's request it can create new tensions between Moscow and Washington, that wants its economic sanctions to bring Tehran to the negotiating table over its nuclear program and regional role.

Iranians who oppose the current regime already see Russia as an ally of the Islamic Republic. At this juncture, it would be a controversial move by Moscow to prop up the government in Tehran.

However, Russia proved willing to go to great lengths to help keep the Maduro regime in power in Venezuela earlier this year and might be willing to provide cash to Iran.

With reporting by Reuters

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