Growth in bankruptcies in Belarus to enable reduced support for public sector

January 23, 2017 11:32

According to the Supreme Court of Belarus, as of January 1st, 2017, economic courts in Belarus were considering 3094 economic insolvency (bankruptcy) cases, including 106 cases against economically vital state-owned enterprises. During 2016, the number of bankruptcy cases against state-owned enterprises doubled due to reduced state support for the loss-making enterprises. Amid reduced budgetary capacities, bankruptcies of state agricultural and industrial enterprises are likely to increase in number, employment in the economy is likely to shrink, losses in some economic sectors are likely to increase due to the inability to reclaim debt from bankrupt enterprises; in-country migration due to the limited employment opportunities in the single-industry towns is likely to increase. Since unemployment benefits and retraining cost less than the lasting support of chronically loss-making enterprises, some city-forming enterprises are likely to declare bankruptcy and the state is likely to continue to support only the key enterprises for the national economy.

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Death penalty discussion in Belarus: yet not ready for either abolition or moratorium
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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.