Marking costs to rise in Belarus and importers and retailers will pay for it
As of May 14th, Belarus has increased the product marking costs. The list of goods, subject to marking includes 20 items (food and non-food items), and marking costs are increasing by two to seven times. Given the Trade Ministry pricing regulations (price hikes should not exceed 12% inflation target in 2016), tea and coffee range in retailers will change and some cheapest sorts of tea packaged up to 50 grams will no longer be supplied to Belarus. Prices on expensive teas and coffees, as well as non-food products will not change, since importers will cover additional costs. Domestic manufacturers of mineral water and drinks will seek to transfer the increased marking costs on retailers. Amid the need to replenish the state budget, the list of goods subject to marking is likely to expand. In addition, the number of inspections at companies supplying such products is likely to increase too.
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.