Cold weather in Belarus could interfere with plans to reduce inflation below 7% in 2017
The Economy Ministry has projected a decrease in annual inflation to 5% with a forecast of 9% for 2017. According to the results of Q1 2017, consumer prices increased by 3.4% and foodstuffs by 4.3%. When the Belarusian rouble depreciates, price for imported goods would increase and would restrain growth in household incomes. An increase in prices for Belarusian on foreign markets would lead to a gradual increase in prices on the domestic market, primarily dairy products. Unfavourable weather conditions, both in Russia and in Belarus, could have a negative impact on the yield of cereals and vegetables, which would lead to higher prices for these products and could derail the plans to reduce inflation, both in 2017 and in 2018.
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.