Belarus may appeal to court to protect her rights within EEU
In late 2016 and early 2017, Belarus made efforts to protect the interests of the Belarusian food producers within the EEU. Apparently, she appealed to the EEU Court residing in Minsk. The Court’s decision is unlikely to revoke the restrictive measures introduced by the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Monitoring Service, however, it could somewhat restrict the powers of the Russian supervisory authority.
Russian Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics Tatiana Valovaya said that Belarus had the right to appeal to the court regarding food supplies to Russia.
As the Union State is losing its political weight as a platform for cooperation between Belarus and Russia, Belarus is focusing on the EEU lobbying tools. For instance, in late 2016 and early 2017, Belarus made several inquiries to the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) to assess the legality of the restrictive measures imposed by the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Monitoring Service against Belarusian goods. The EEC confirmed violations by the Russian supervisory authority.
In particular, Belarusian former Prime Minister and Minister for Industry and Agroindustrial Complex of the EEC Sergey Sidorsky explained that veterinary supervision within the EEU should only be carried out in respect of veterinary risks, and that identifying violations unrelated to veterinary risks should not be used as grounds for imposing veterinary measures restricting product supplies. On December 19th – 21st, 2016, the EEC held a working meeting with the participation of the EEC representatives, the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Monitoring Service and the Russian Agriculture Ministry representatives and officials from the Belarusian Agricultural Ministry, where the parties came to an agreement about the shortcomings and Belarus provided all documents required to resolve the disputes. However, no action by the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Monitoring Service has followed.
Meanwhile, the EEC has no mechanisms to influence the national governments. Most likely, as the next step, Belarus may appeal to the EEU Court to protect the rights of the manufacturers.
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.