Favorable conditions for reorganisation of security business created in Belarus
Fights between customers and security guards occurred in a number of shopping centres in Belarus this summer.
Acts of violence involving customers and security guards provide the state with an additional leverage to influence private retail chain stores - primarily in terms of employment of dismissed employees of the Ministry of the Interior. So far the state has not taken active steps in this area.
A young man was beaten up by the guards in one of the stores of the Minsk ‘Korona’ chain at the beginning of May and, as a result, the young man lost his ability to work. A customer was beaten up by the guards in the ‘Volgograd’ supermarket in the capital in June, and this lead to the customer’s death in hospital. Two customers were beaten up in one of the ‘Evroopt’ stores of Gomel in August.
The typical characteristic of all these incidents is the initial conflict between guards and customers as a reason for violence on the part of store security guards. Moreover, in all these cases criminal proceedings were instigated by prosecutors and the Investigation Committee. Finally, the mentioned stores are private enterprises (‘Volgograd Department Stores’ private company) and are a part of large, private commercial chains (‘Korona’ and ‘Evroopt’ stores). Finally, all these incidents were widely publicised via photos and video footage as well as testimonies of eye-witnesses put on the Internet.
Thus, in practice favorable conditions are created for ‘protection of citizens’ by the state and interfering into activities of private enterprises. Such actions were undertaken by the authorities after the patient’s death in one of the private cosmetic surgery clinics of Minsk in spring - extensive checks of the entire healthcare industry were subsequently conducted. However, active steps on the part of the authorities such as the revision of the rules of the organisation of paramilitary security in private enterprises have not been taken.
Nonetheless, it is probable that the described cases of unprofessional conduct of the security guards in shopping centers and stores can be used as an excuse by the authorities. The ongoing reform of the state apparatus includes significant staff reduction (by 20 % in accordance with the unofficial data) in a number of state agencies, including the Ministry of the Interior. In this case, public disclosure of the facts of unprofessional conduct of the security guards can be used as an excuse to conduct forced ‘professionalisation’ of the area of private paramilitary security services in the Republic of Belarus including recruitment of former employees of the Ministry of the Interior.
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.