Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko (67) has approved changes to the country’s criminal code. This means that in future the preparation and “attempted act of terrorism” can also be punished with the death penalty.
Until now, only perpetrators of an attack could be punished with the death penalty in Belarus. The law will come into force ten days after its publication, Russian news agencies reported on Wednesday.
The Belarusian parliament had backed the extension of the death penalty after activists tried to sabotage parts of the railway network to make it more difficult for Russia to send troops to Ukraine.
Document should show Lukashenko’s signature
At the very beginning of the war, Russia used close ally Belarus as a staging area for its February 24 invasion of Ukraine. Minsk denies involvement in the conflict but admits that Belarusian territory was used for the invasion.
More on Belarus and Russia
Russian news agencies Interfax and RIA Novosti reported that a document on a national Belarusian legal portal shows that Lukashenko signed the amendments allowing the death penalty for attempted acts of terrorism. However, the Reuters news agency could not reach the website on Wednesday.
Terrorist charge of vandalized car
Since the mass protests against the controversial re-election of Lukashenko in August 2020, numerous government opponents in Belarus have been accused of attempting or preparing an act of terrorism.
One person was charged with terrorism for daubing red paint on a judge’s car and another for throwing a rock at a prosecutor’s window. Among those persecuted is opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya (39), who fled into exile.
A new trial against 12 government opponents accused of preparing acts of terrorism, among other things, began in the city of Grodno on Wednesday, according to the Belarusian Human Rights Center Vyazna. The group is accused of setting fire to a police officer’s car and house and then blowing up another man’s car. Belarus is the last country in Europe still using the death penalty. (chs/AFP)