Opposition is against the nomenclature privatization

April 22, 2016 18:27

On March 15th several members of the Belarus’ Supreme Council of the 13th convocation signed a petition against the so-called “nomenclature privatization” in Belarus. The meeting was chaired by the United Civic Party Chairman Lyabedzka and the Belarusian Leftist Party “Fair World” Chairman Kalyakin.

The joint statement by members of the Belarus’ last legitimate parliament is an important political capital. However, the ex-deputies’ ability to influence the situation in the country is rather symbolic than political. Their resolutions are therefore easily ignored by the ruling group.

There is a strong view that in the Belarus’ modern history the Supreme Soviet of the 13th convocation was the last legitimate authority before the constitutional reforms were undertaken by President Lukashenko by 1996 referendum (in violation of the Constitution). This legal conflict was successfully neutralized by the strong presidential authority and suppressed by the state propaganda.

However, in principle, there is still the opportunity to restore the law which has been violated 17 years ago, and the joint statement by the Supreme Soviet deputies of the 13th convocation intended to draw attention to this. In particular, as a ‘weapon’ the deputies chose an extremely sensitive issue for the Belarusian elite – the ownership issue: illegitimate Belarusian authorities are not entitled to dispose of public property. Therefore the petition’s authors promise to review the deals with strategic enterprises after the rule of law is restored in Belarus.

In practical terms, the probability of restoring the law and the parliamentary power continuity in Belarus is very small, because president Lukashenko remains the key figure in the managerial elites system that he had created in Belarus. Also note the initiative’s ambiguity: doubts about the Belarusian nomenclature’s legitimacy effectively marginalize the authors of the statement. Since 1996 there were five convocations of the Parliament in Belarus and a whole new generation of nomenclature groups.

The authors clearly understood the risk of their marginalization and therefore focused only on the infeasibility of privatization of large strategic businesses, not all. Moreover, the opposition’s demand is generally consistent with the president Lukashenko’s current policies, de facto banning the privatization of Belarusian assets, and even creating the conditions for re-privatization.

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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.