Belarus to keep sales up on Russian market with lower export prices
According to the National Statistics Committee, Belarus’ exports to the Russian market in January - October 2016 totalled 8.8 billion and increased by 0.7% as compared with the same period in 2015. Prices for most Belarusian export items on the Russian market fell as compared with 2015. The growth in export was mainly due to higher export volumes, including the biggest growth in exports of capital goods (machinery and equipment, means of land transport). The Russian Food Administration is likely to continue to control fruit and vegetable supply to Russia from Belarus in order to reveal re-exports. In addition, exports of non-food consumer goods from Belarus (clothing, footwear, household appliances) to the Russian market are likely to increase. Stagnation in the construction industry is likely to lower the demand for decoration and building materials from Belarus. Due to the increased share of the Russian rouble in the basket of currencies, Belarus will improve response to changes in prices in Russia, and if necessary, will step up the competitiveness of Belarusian goods by propping up the national currency.
The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.
In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.
There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.
That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.