Car production capacity in Belarus unlikely to be utilized in full in 2017
In January 2017, 169 cars were assembled in the Minsk region at facilities with production capacity over 850 units a month. In 2016, 967 cars were sold on the domestic market and 4700 in Russia, taking into account the production volume of more than 10 000 cars. 4000 cars were not sold and placed on dealer lots. In 2017, car production is likely to decrease compared with 2016 due to the lack of growth in sales on the Russian market. The authorities are likely to apply administrative measures to stimulate car sales on the domestic market, for instance, they may prompt procurement orders for domestic passenger cars at the state administration bodies and public enterprises. In addition, Belarus may seek to sell her cars on markets outside the EEU, for instance, in Ukraine, which looks most promising. In 2017, Belarus will launch a small component assembly line, which will increase the production capacity to 60 000 cars, however, taking into account the car market situation, most of the new capacities will not be in demand.
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.