Authorities probe oppositions mobilisation capacities ahead of elections
Minsk authorities have sanctioned the demonstration and opposition rally on March 25th under the slogan "Together for peace and independence!" dedicated to the Freedom Day (Dzien Voli).
The authorities have decided not to ban the traditional opposition rally, but have readjusted the timeframe – from 3 pm to 6 pm (instead of 6 pm to 9 pm) in order to create additional inconvenience for the organisers and to reduce participation. In addition, by observing the demonstration the Belarusian leadership will assess the opposition’s mobilisation capacity and evaluate the security forces’ readiness to control the situation during mass opposition actions ahead of the presidential election. Depending on participation and the course of the demonstration, the Belarusian authorities will choose more or less rigid scenario for the election campaign in 2015
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.