Belarus may reduce sales of potash fertilizers in 2016 to USD 2 billion
In January 2016, Belarus produced 544000 tons of potash fertilizers, which is down by over one third compared with January 2015. Belarus’ potash fertilizer exports in January 2016 reduced by 1.8 times due to negative trends on the world potash market and a slump in potash prices down to USD 200 per tonne on some markets. Belarus is likely to reduce potash production due to lower demand from buyers - China, India and Brazil, which is likely to drop currency proceeds to USD 2 billion. The government will need additional funds to bridge the funding gap due to lower potash proceeds and Belarusian potash industry is likely to slow down. In addition, Belaruskali will have to continue to downsize its staff and reduce workers’ wages.
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.