Belarus is ready to sell blocking stake in Belarusbank in attempt to attract large foreign capital

May 27, 2016 13:45

According to the Prime Minister’s regulation, a working group should be set up in Belarus in order to coordinate the sale of a minority stake at JSC Belarusbank before November 1st, 2017. The main purpose is to attract equity capital in the Belarusian economy and optimise business processes in the bank. Overdue loans are likely to be transferred to the Development Bank, Belarusbank’s branch network and staff would be optimised. Due to the banks’ serious engagement in government programmes and weak financial performance, investors’ interest in the asset is unlikely to be huge. In addition, the state is likely to allow the sale only to a major Western financial institution. Since there may be no bids to purchase Belarusbank shares, the state may prepare documents for the sale of larger packages in other state-owned banks.

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Death penalty discussion in Belarus: yet not ready for either abolition or moratorium
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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.