Lukashenko extends the death penalty in Belarus. The USA criticizes that this could in future be applied to peaceful demonstrators, political dissidents or opponents of the Ukraine war. A first pointer could be a court case that has just started.
The United States has sharply criticized a new law in Belarus, according to which preparing and "attempting an act of terrorism" can be punished with the death penalty. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the law was aimed at pro-democracy activists and opponents of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. "These actions are those of an authoritarian leader desperately clinging to power through fear and intimidation."
Blinken explained that the Lukashenko regime had made politically motivated allegations of "extremism" and "terrorism" against many of the more than 1,100 political prisoners in Belarus. Such terms were also used as a pretext for the arrest of tens of thousands of other people. The US Secretary of State warned that "peaceful demonstrators, representatives of civil society, journalists, political opponents" and opponents of the Ukraine war now face the death penalty in the future.
The Russian news agency RIA Novosti previously reported that Lukashenko had signed the law extending the death penalty. Until now, only perpetrators of an attack could be punished with the death penalty in Belarus.
Since the mass protests against Lukashenko's controversial re-election in August 2020, numerous government opponents in Belarus have been accused of attempting or preparing an "act of terrorism", including opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya, who fled into exile.
A new trial against twelve government opponents, who are accused of, among other things, "preparing acts of terrorism", 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.