Minsk aims to step up Belarusian staff in international organisations
Belarusian Ambassador to Vienna Elena Kupchina, who was nominated as a candidate for the OSCE Secretary General post, could not ensure a consensus during the OSCE member states’ vote. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry attempted to take advantage of the favourable foreign policy environment and the support from the Kremlin to enhance its diplomatic successes. Apparently, the Belarusian leadership has started a systemic work to increase its participation in authoritative international organisations. Belarusian representatives at high positions in international organisations could reinforce ambitions of the Belarusian leadership on global peacekeeping initiatives. In all likelihood, the strengthening of the diplomatic block in the Belarusian politics could lead to tension in relations with the power block, which, however, could be relaxed due to increased involvement of law enforcement in the redistribution of state resources and anti-corruption persecution. Nevertheless, due to the interest in stepping up its international presence, Minsk is likely to soften domestic policy and engage in some dialogue with civil society.
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.