Monday

22nd Apr 2019

Investigation

Belarus executions compound EU outrage

Belarus has executed two men despite an international appeal for clemency, just as EU countries start talks on whether to impose extra sanctions.

On Saturday (17 March) Liubou Kavaliova received a 40-word-long note on Supreme Court stationary saying that her son, Uladzislau Kavalyou, has been killed.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

When well-wishers came by with flowers, they were met by Omon riot police, sent to make sure the evening did not turn into a protest rally. They caused even more upset by peeking in through her windows to see what she was doing in the house.

Her son and another young man, Dzmitry Kanavalau (also executed), were convicted of planting a bomb on the Minsk metro in April 2011. Their imputed motive was to "destabilise society" and their show trial was the fastest ever prosecution in a capital case in the country's history.

The whole story is now widely seen as a macabre PR exercise to showcase President Alexander Lukashanko's authority, which began to wane last year when shops ran out of basic commodities due to an economic slump.

"The accusations are based on the statements made by my son and Dzmitry, which were given under torture after their detention," Kavalyova said when she addressed the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, in January.

"Even the victims of the attack believe that these two boys are innocent and should not be murdered. But if they want more blood, I want them to send me to death instead of my innocent son. I have lived enough."

The metro bomb killed 15 people and wounded around 200 on 11 April last year. Within hours, Lukashenko - together with his seven-year-old son - appeared to make a personal tour of the grizzly scene.

The two men were detained the next day and later interrogated for seven hours with no lawyers present.

Both confessed. But Kavalyou subsequently retracted his confession, saying that he and Dzmitry had been threatened and physically tortured. Medical experts confirmed they had serious injuries, according to Change.org, a social platform which campaigned for their release.

Meanwhile, all the evidence was destroyed after the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus delivered its verdict on 30 November.

Bereaved family members will not be able to view the bodies. In Belarus, executions are typically carried out with a gunshot to the back of the head and the bodies are disposed of in secret locations.

Belarus is the only country in Europe which still carries out the death penalty and its latest killings have caused outrage in Brussels just as EU countries start talks on whether to impose extra sanctions.

"This death sentence, carried out despite the protests and appeals of their families and the international community, is a heinous act that should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. It only shows how little Belarusian authorities care about European values and the inhuman face of president Lukashenko's regime," said Polish MEP Jacek Protasiewicz, chairman of the parliament's delegation for relations with Belarus.

Belarus - Europe's last dictatorship

Caught between the competing geopolitical interests of its neighbours, Belarus President Alexander Lukashanko has managed to position himself as a strategic buffer between Europe and Russia. EUobserver's Nikolaj Nielsen examines life - political, economic and cultural - under this autocrat.

About Nikolaj Nielsen

Nikolaj Nielsen is a Danish-American journalist working for EUobserver in Brussels. He won a King Baudouin Foundation grant for investigative journalism in 2010.

Who is Lukashenko anyway?

Eighteen years and still in power, Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko retains a mesmerising hold on a country which glorifies Soviet-era rule.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us