By dismissing his assistant Rudy, Belarusian president weakened liberal positions in government
Former Assistant to the President Kirill Rudy was appointed as the Belarusian Ambassador to China. Belarusian analysts regarded Kirill Rudy as one of the main supporters of liberal reforms in the government, who was not afraid to lead a public debate on the need for market reforms in the country. In addition, strong positions of liberal reform supporters in the government created a favourable environment for the normalization of relations with Western capitals. However, Rudy’s approaches to economic transformations irritated the conservative camp of "strong economic managers" who, along with President Lukashenka aimed to preserve the existing economic model. Apparently, amid growing demand for change among the population, the top management decided to weaken reformists’ positions in the government in order to reduce political risks.
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.