Belarusian government tries to appease citizens unhappy with housing privatisation

April 22, 2016 19:02

A presidential decree has been adopted that aims to address the most acute problems with residential housing privatisation, which should be completed by July 1st, 2016. As of January 1st, 2014, 360, 000 apartments still needed to be privatised in Belarus (8.8% of all apartments subject to privatisation). Throughout 2014, about 90% of the population have executed their right to privatisation. However, privatisation of apartments built in the Soviet era is still an issue which strongly resonates in Belarusian society and has a negative effect on the Belarusian authorities’ ratings. People who still live in non-privatised public apartments are those who are largely dependent on state support. With the decree, the government attempted to relieve the tension in this society group in view of the upcoming 2015 presidential elections.

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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.