Belarus to continue using Polish minority as leverage in relations with Poland

April 22, 2016 19:41

On February 10th, the Polish Sejm approved Konrad Pawlik’s nomination as Ambassador of Poland to Belarus. When Sikorski was the Polish Foreign Minister, Konrad Pawlik worked in the Foreign Ministry’s Eastern Department. After his appointment, Pawlik said that he would focus his efforts on improving the situation with the Polish minority in Belarus. In general, it is likely that the Polish policy towards Belarus will continue to follow that of the EU; however, due to the common border between Belarus and Poland, the latter is more interested in Belarus than the EU as a whole. Yet it is difficult to say whether Poland will promote initiatives aimed at strengthening good neighbourly relations with Belarus independently or through the pan-European institutions. Meanwhile, the Belarusian authorities are likely to continue using the Polish minority as a leverage in relations with Poland.

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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.