Minsk is attempting to form positive attitude towards Belarusian NPP outside Belarus

May 26, 2016 16:16

Belarus has invited Lithuanian experts to visit the country for consultations on nuclear safety and environmental protection. The Belarusian authorities attach great importance to the formation of a positive attitude outside Belarus to the NPP construction in Belarus. Before Lithuanian specialists had arrived, Minsk hosted the IAEA delegation led by Director General Yukiya Amano, who met with senior officials, including President Lukashenka. Internally, there is no great opposition to the NPP construction in Belarus, which could encourage the Belarusian authorities to suspend the project. In addition, the president has declared an increase in the share of electricity in the energy balance of the country as a response to the threat from Lithuania to block energy export to the European market from Belarus after the NPP launch. The Belarusian authorities hope to soften Vilnius’ position on the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets by forming a positive attitude outside Belarus regarding nuclear energy in Belarus.

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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.