Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Wednesday the European Union
had not asked him to postpone the execution of the two men charged with
carrying out a terrorist attack in the Minsk metro.
“The European Union has never asked me to delay the execution of these people,”
Lukashenko said in an interview with Russia Today. “The European Union has
always asked us to cancel the death penalty.”
Belarusian state television reported on Sunday that Dmitry Konovalov and
Vladislav Kovalyov, the two men sentenced to death over the April 2011 bombing
that killed 15 people and injured more than 200, had been executed.
The EU has condemned the hasty executions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov has urged Belarus to join a moratorium on the death penalty. Belarus is
the only country in Europe that still uses capital punishment.
Konovalov, a lathe operator, and Kovalyov, an electrician, were detained the
day after the bombing. The next day, Lukashenko announced that the
investigation into the attack had been completed.
“To be honest, when the terrorist attack occurred, I was deeply unsure that we
would be able to investigate it,” he said in his interview.
Konovalov, charged organizing the attack, has pleaded guilty, while Kovalyov,
who was charged as Konovalov’s accomplice, has not admitted his guilt and asked
Lukashenko for pardon. The president has turned down the appeal.
Belarusian and international rights activists have criticized the conduct of
the trial, which they said lacked fairness and openness.
Lukashenko has dismissed those claims, saying in his RT interview that the
trial was “open” and “absolutely transparent.”
On March 16, Kovalyov’s mother sent a letter to Lukashenko asking him to
postpone her son’s execution for one year to allow her appeal to the United
Nations Human Rights Committee to be considered.
“If the mother had any doubts or suspicions – I insisted that any signal should
be inspected, and so it was,” Lukashenko said.
“There were some hints of falsifications and fraud… I ask: what’s the point?
Answer me as if you were in my shoes – why do I need falsifications?” he told
an RT journalist.
He described the executions as “another tragedy.”
“I feel for those people’s parents, whom I cannot help,” he said. “I am often
asked: what is the most difficult thing that you have faced? I have already
said publicly that the most difficult thing for me is to sign a non-pardon
In the past 5 years, at least 14 people were executed in Belarus. The only
known case when Lukashenko pardoned a criminal, replacing death penalty with
20-year imprisonment, dates back to 1996. In a referendum held the same year,
80.5 percent of Belarusians supported the death penalty as punishment for
severe crimes, according to official statistics.
(source: Ria Novosti)