Minsk ponders death penalty moratorium benefits
On April 11th, Alexander Hessel, Council of Europe Director for political issues visited Minsk.
Meetings in Minsk with CoE representative, Alexander Hessel, imply that Belarus is considering options to open an additional communication channel with the EU. In addition, Belarus may try to "swap" a moratorium on the death penalty with one of the conditions for the resumption of EU-Belarus dialogue.
In Minsk, Mr. Hessel gave a lecture at the Belarusian State University, met with Foreign Ministry officials and the Constitutional Court. Meeting at the Constitutional Court in particular, may be regarded as an implication that the Belarusian authorities are considering a moratorium on the death penalty as an option. Moratorium on the death penalty is an obligatory condition for the resumption of talks for Belarus’ accession to the Council of Europe.
The day after Hessel’s visit, Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Jean-Claude Minion made a statement about the Council of Europe’s readiness to continue talks with Belarus about its membership in the CoE, but only if the moratorium on the death penalty was introduced. According to Mignon, such a step would show that Belarus “shares European values”.
If Belarusian authorities see benefits from the resumption of the dialogue with the CoE, they might include the moratorium on the death penalty in the negotiations package put forward by the EU (release and rehabilitation of political prisoners, democratization of the political system, etc). In particular, the authorities may try to “swap” the moratorium with the demand of political prisoners’ rehabilitation.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.