"Tell the Truth!" is most prepared for 2016 parliamentary election campaign
Last week, ‘Tell the Truth!’ Republican Research and Educational Association was founded in Minsk, led by ex-presidential candidate Tatsiana Karatkevich and HQ headed by Andrei Dmitriev. ‘Tell the Truth’ is the first opposition structure to state that it has a vision of its activities until the 2020 presidential elections. After the 2015 presidential campaign, Tatsiana Karatkevich has become an opposition politician with the highest rating and having the potential to attract new population groups to the democratic camp – those who sympathize the idea of a ‘peaceful change’, but do not support ‘conventional’ opposition. ‘Tell the Truth’ is focusing on work with new supporters and does not engage in internal conflicts within the opposition camp; in addition, they were the first to initiate formation of an open list of candidates for the parliamentary elections. However, as the 2016 parliamentary elections draw closer, tension over lists of candidates between ‘Tell the Truth!’ and other opposition organizations may increase. Tatsiana Karatkevich is likely to remain the most popular opposition politician until the 2016 parliamentary campaign kicks off, which creates additional opportunities to build the widest possible list of candidates for the parliament.
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.