Belarusian enterprises allowed making pre-payments to foreign counterparts
As of May 12th, 2015, Belarusian companies allowed making advance payments when dealing with non-Eurasian Economic Union companies. Such payment restrictions were introduced in November 2008 and were lifted with regard to Russia and Kazakhstan in March 2011. Lifting of restrictions may increase importers activity on the foreign exchange market and import prices may somewhat reduce due to changes in the payment terms. Meanwhile, imports from Russia will not lose their appeal due to a moratorium on the VAT refund on supplies from non-EEU countries. If loan interest rates continue to reduce, companies may hedge the exchange rate risks with rouble loans. The main risk for importers includes administrative measures aimed at increasing sales of domestic products and creating obstacles for imports to Belarus.
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.