In the former Soviet Republic of Belarus, ruler Alexander Lukashenko introduced the death penalty for high treason. Lukashenko signed a law that provides for tougher penalties for "crimes with an extremist and anti-state orientation," as the state news agency Belta reported on Thursday evening.
According to observers, it is primarily intended to ensure the loyalty of the official and military apparatus. Belarus is the only country in Europe that still uses the death penalty. Lukashenko has been in power there since 1994.
With the new law, officials and soldiers now face the death penalty if they are guilty of high treason. The interpretation is a matter for the courts. However, the penalties will also be tightened against ordinary citizens: in future, “terrorist propaganda” and “defamation of the armed forces” will be punished with imprisonment. Such paragraphs were also included in the penal code of Russia's big neighbor and military ally after the start of its war of aggression against Ukraine.
Despite international criticism, Belarus is the only European country that has not yet abolished the death penalty. Previously, it was imposed on convictions for murder or terrorism. Death sentences in Belarus are carried out by shooting. The authoritarian ruler Lukashenko is described by critics as "Europe's last dictator". The EU has not recognized him as head of state since the 2020 election, which was marked by numerous manipulation scandals. Mass protests had Lukashenko brutally crushed with Russia's backing. Since then he has been considered dependent on Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.