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.
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.