Russia will help to refinance Belarusian foreign debt in 2015
In 2015, Russia will provide USD 1.3 billion worth financial assistance to Belarus. On April 30th, 2015 USD 110 million was transferred to the Finance Ministry account and payments on two loans have been deterred until Q3 2015 (USD 750 million and USD 450 million). In 2015, Belarus requires additional USD 1 billion to service her public debt. The loan from Russia may somewhat relieve the pressure on Belarus’ currency market and reduce fluctuations of the national currency against the currencies basket. As a result, interest rates on loans from international institutions may reduce and Belarus may put off the issue of Eurobonds until later. However, deterring foreign debt payments does not solve the overall problem with public debt payment. In 2016, Belarus will require more than USD 3 billion to service her international liabilities.
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.