Minsk proposed economic cooperation to Warsaw for giving up Belsat funding
The Polish Foreign Ministry has abolished the agreement on the establishment of "Belsat", but promised help with finding donors. Contradictory statements by the Polish authorities and Belsat management about future funding mislead the Belarusian society and reduce support for the channel. In turn, the Belarusian authorities show willingness to engage in a dialogue on improved access of Polish business to the Belarusian and Eurasian market, and on complex bilateral issues. The Belarusian authorities may ease pressure on unregistered Polish minority organisations, but are unlikely to legalise their activities in order to retain a pressure lever on Warsaw. In addition, the authorities may agree to the broadcast of Polonia TV Channel in Belarus, which does not criticise the Belarusian authorities and has limited potential audience.
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.