Parliamentary campaign coincided with increased repressions
The Belarusian authorities demonstrate to the West that they do not want any interference with the election campaign. Increased repressions against Belarusian journalists working for European media meant to counteract the EU threats to extend sanctions against Belarusian officials and businessmen.
On June 18th, President Lukashenko set the date for elections to the National Assembly. On June 21-22, two journalists working for Belarusian foreign media were arrested: Mr. Poczobut and Mr. Sverdlov.
Announcement of the Parliamentary elections date in Belarus had no impact on the domestic political situation. Pressure on opposition activists and civil society is not released. In fact, the amount of pressure on independent media journalists has increased sharply.
In particular, during last week two journalists, working for foreign media were arrested in Belarus: Andrzey Poczobut and Pavel Sverdlov. As well, security officials have organized a demonstrative surveillance of the European Radio for Belarus offices. Criminal proceeding initiated against Poczobut envisage up to 5 years of imprisonment.
Most likely, with these actions against journalists the Belarusian authorities attempted to respond to a statement by Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Co-operation and OSCE, European External Action Service Mr. Wiegand that the EU could expand sanctions against Belarus. On June 18th this information was published in the EUObserver. Prompt and rigid reaction of Minsk indicates that country’s senior management has no double thoughts about resuming a dialogue on the EU conditions.
According to Decree No. 221 of June 23rd, 2017, deadlines for the completion of foreign trade operations have been extended from 90 to 180 days for exports and from 60 to 90 days for imports. Delayed payments entailed a fine up to 2% of the transaction cost for each day of the delay, but could not exceed the total cost of the transaction. Most companies, when working with new counterparties, require a deferred payment for a period of three to six months. Due to the new regulation, violations are likely to reduce in number, so as the fines. Trade enterprises are likely to expand the assortment list due to the supply of new products in small lots, and the assortment list of exported Belarusian goods could expand, too. The new terms for completing foreign trade transactions would enable medium and small companies on the foreign trade market, exporters and importers are likely to grow in number and the geography of export-import operations could expand.