Belarusian opposition will fail to agree on single list of candidates for parliamentary elections
The centre-right coalition, which includes ‘For Freedom’ movement, the United Civil Party and the organizing committee of the ‘Belarusian Christian Democracy’ party, is planning to hold a congress of democratic forces, which would become a joint start in the upcoming parliamentary election campaign. The event will be instead of, or in opposition to the street action, called the Belarusian National Congress, which was organised in May 2016 by Nikolai Statkevich. The centre-right coalition has declared its intention to nominate their candidates in 95 constituencies of 110. This means, that Statkevich’s initiative to create a shared list of democratic candidates will not materialise. Former presidential candidate Tatyana Karatkevich, leader of ‘Tell the Truth’ campaign Andrey Dmitriev, Ales Lahvinets from ‘For Freedom’ movement and Aliaksei Yanukevich from the Belarusian Popular Front have already announced their participation in the upcoming parliamentary campaign.
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.