Belarus hopes that presidential elections will not hamper cooperation with EU

April 22, 2016 19:16

On June 29th, 2015, Minsk hosted the fifth round of the Eastern Partnership informal ministerial dialogue. After the meeting, Foreign Minister Makei expressed satisfaction with the development of relations with the EU, and in an interview with the Belarusian portal TUT.by said that he hoped that the election results would allow the EU and Belarus "to avoid that vicious circle that somehow always occurred in past”. In addition, Vadim Gigin, Chief Editor of Belaruskaya Dumka, a state-run magazine was even more concrete regarding Belarus’ hopes about the EU assessment of the upcoming presidential elections, “albeit noting some progress in the conduct of the elections, western observers for the most part will remain very critical... The main thing is that such bias should not interfere with how our relations develop”.

 

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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.