Belarusian leadership demonstrates fatigue with ‘reformists’ for lack of successes
President Lukashenka strengthens the positions of conservative-minded state managers, who focus on relations with Russia and Soviet practices in the humanitarian field. Apparently, the fight in the nomenclature for further socio-economic development strategy and cultural choice has deteriorated. Most likely, the president is discontent with the lack of progress in ending the economic crisis by the reformists and is ready to resume the conservative management approach.
The president last week promoted two deputy heads of Minsk executive committee head Shorets.
The president’s appointments were perceived ambiguously in Belarusian society, and some even caused a public outcry. For instance, people sharply criticised the appointment of a Communist party member, Karpenko, who is well known for his dedication to the Soviet system and attempts to counteract the ‘belarusisation’ in Minsk, as the Education Minister.
Before becoming the Education Minister, Karpenko was responsible for the state ideology in the Minsk City Administration, which prompted many analysts to believe that Belarus might take a u-turn to Soviet ideological practices and/or hold a referendum to extend the presidential and the parliament’s terms. Apparently, the integration of the Belarusian educational system in the Bologna process, started by the outgoing Minister, could be suspended. That said, the president has somewhat balanced out the situation in the humanities by appointing Karliukevich, former head of Zviazda, Belarusian-speaking holding, as Deputy Information Minister.
Most likely, unsuccessful attempts of reformers in the government to drive the country from the social and economic crisis have prompted the country leadership’s nostalgia and a desire to strengthen ideology in social sphere.
Overall, amid lingering social and economic crisis, the Belarusian leadership aims to boost positions of conservative-minded executives from ideological administration in the upper echelons of power.
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.