Belarusians help National Bank to restrain depletion of gold reserves
According to the National Bank, as of April 1st, Belarus’ gold reserves totalled USD 4 560.5 million – shrank by USD 90.8 million since March. Experts have assessed such a depletion rate as ‘fairly moderate’, considering that in March 2015 was the peak of external debt payments. On the positive side, in March 2015, the net sale of foreign currency cash by population totalled SD 243.8 million. In addition, due to some ‘stabilisation’ of the BYR, the National Bank did not have to use international reserves to support BYR exchange rate. Since Belarus is expecting to receive a USD 110 million loan from Russia, her gold reserves may stop dwindling in the coming month. In addition, Belarusian state banks may issue new currency bonds on domestic market and rules regarding non-centralized imports by Belarusian citizens may be toughened. Trending net sales of foreign currency by population will persist in the coming months due to falling incomes and the need to convert foreign currency savings to support consumption levels.
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.