Minsk carries out execution amid normalization of relations with European Union
According to the Amnesty International, Belarusian authorities have executed 22-year-old Belarusian Sergei Ivanov after a break since November 2014 (death sentences were handed down but not executed). Official Minsk took a pause in executions, which allowed avoiding additional tension in the process of normalisation with the EU. It is worth noting that in early 2016, the Belarusian authorities demonstrated willingness to engage in a dialogue with European institutions over the introduction of a moratorium or abolishing the death penalty, however with no real intent to change the existing practice. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities are satisfied with the level and the pace of normalisation of the Belarusian-European relations. Minsk is likely to attempt to expand the room for manoeuvre in relations with the European Union before the parliamentary elections in Belarus.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.