Belarusian authorities propose to discuss a moratorium on the death penalty
On March 20, after the Summit of the EurAsEC, Pesident Lukashenko was interviewed by a Russian English-speaking TV channel Russia Today, network broadcasting outside Russia.
The cornerstone of the interview was the issue of execution of two defendants in the case of the terrorist attack in the Minsk metro on April 11, 2011. Lukashenko rigidly insisted on him being right, which was not surprising, bearing in mind that both convicts were executed virtually the day before. The President reasoned, that “this was exceptionally a criminal case, which should not be politicized”.
Also Lukashenko reiterated twice that the EU had not addressed him with a request to postpone the executions. Thereby the President emphasized he did not violate any commitments and also made it clear he was ready to discuss the death penalty with the EU.
So, paradoxically, Lukashenko has opened the prospects for negotiations on the introduction of a moratorium on executions in Belarus. On the following day, Chairman of the Constitutional Court Petr Miklashevich explained the procedures for imposing of a moratorium or abolition of the death penalty.
We have previously pointed to the paradoxical behaviour of the authorities in the international relations, i.e. that they intersperse tough measures with promises of liberalization. Introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty is a lengthy procedure, requiring parliamentary vote, which could prolong the process of normalization of the relations between Belarus and the EU and made to look not as a concession and a sign of weakness, but as a “constructive dialogue”.
At the same time, such shift of accents would help the authorities to distract the public attention from other requirements of the EU and the U.S., namely, the release and rehabilitation of political prisoners and democratization of the electoral system.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.