Redistribution of market among large businesses in Belarus before presidential elections

April 22, 2016 19:23

On August 19th, citing "reliable sources" reported about the detention of Yuri Chizh business partner, who ranked 19th in the top of the most influential Belarusian businessmen according to Yezhednevnik. Yet there was no official confirmation of the detention of ‘Triple’ holding co-owner Vladimir Yaprintsev. Recently, ‘Triple’ holding, whose major owner is Yuri Chizh, Lukashenka’s close friend, has been engaged in a scandal around its failure to meet obligations vis-a-vis a Ukrainian company, to which ‘Triple’ had agreed to supply 2000 tons of diesel fuel with total worth circa USD 1.6 million. In recent years, the Belarusian company ‘Triple’ consistently strengthened its positions on the Ukrainian market of petroleum products (in 2011-2012 ‘Triple’ was re-exporting Russian oil products under the guise of solvents and lubricants in order to avoid export duty payments to the Russian budget). Large Belarusian businesses in Lukashenka’s close environment are likely to be redistributing the most profitable markets ahead of the presidential elections.

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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.