Falling incomes of population curb inflation in Belarus
According to the National Statistics Committee, inflation in Belarus was 9.2% in January - October 2016, which means that if the dynamics persists, the annual inflation target at 12% is likely to be achieved in Belarus. The main factor, which helped to curb inflation, was falling incomes of the population - by 7.1%. In order to maintain the standard of living, households sold USD 1.6 billion on a net basis. Further increases in utility costs will outpace income growth, and the BYN exchange rate would not fluctuate significantly (given there are no significant changes in the regional environment) due to the net currency supply by the population. Retail trade turnover is likely to fall short of 2015 in comparable prices. In addition, retail outlets are likely to reduce in number, so as the average ticket in the shops in dollar terms. In the next two-three months, the National Bank is likely to continue to reduce interest rates in the economy, which would be justified amid the low inflation rate in 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.