Kanopatskaya may grasp opportunity to unite opposition in regions

January 16, 2017 12:48

Anna Kanopatskaya, an MP from the opposition, urged last week to abolish the decree "on social parasites" and hold a tax amnesty. A United Civic Party member, Anna Kanopatskaya, is demonstrating loyalty to her party and is willing to exploit her parliamentary opportunities for collaboration with other members of the centre-right coalition. The MP has voiced a number of initiatives, yet it is not clear which social groups would become a priority in her activities. By raising a large number of issues using her MP mandate, she may atomise her efforts, and be unable to apply the necessary pressure on the authorities on the most important issues for the opposition. In the near future, the UCP is likely to use the potential of MP Kanopatskaya to unite opposition structures within the centre-right coalition in the regions.

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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.