EBRD to assist privatisation of Moscow-Minsk Bank

October 03, 2016 10:36
Photo: www.belta.by

According to the memorandum signed by the National Bank of Belarus and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, EBRD will provide financial and technical assistance to OJSC "Moscow-Minsk Bank" in the privatization process to be completed by January 1st, 2020. EBRD will open a credit line of up to EUR 20 million and may become one of the bank’s shareholders. If the project is a success, foreign investors are likely to increase the interest in Belarusian assets. As well, interest rates for SMEs may reduce, and the state may reduce its share in the banking sector, while the National Bank would preserve full control over it. Nevertheless, the state will not give up a controlling stake in systemically important banks, and would sell a blocking stake only to major international banking structures.

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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.