Authorities seeking ways to tax ’social parasites’

April 22, 2016 19:06

The decree, which envisages a tax on ’social parasitism’, has been sent for revision and should be finalised by mid-February. This initiative by the Belarusian authorities has resulted in the greater number of people registering at the employment centers, which offer mainly low-paid jobs. In addition, problems at some large state-owned export enterprises have prompted their managers to hold lay-offs or send employees on unpaid leave. Moreover, as recession in Russia builds up, Belarusian workers started returning to Belarus (up to 400,000 people according to some estimates). The authorities’ actions have exerted significant pressure on the labour market, which may lead to increased tension in Belarusian society. As a result, the authorities are likely to reconsider their initiative and to investigate other means to replenish the state budget.

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Death penalty discussion in Belarus: yet not ready for either abolition or moratorium
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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.