The European Union says it has confirmed that Belarus carried out a total of three executions during the month of November -- raising the total number of executions in the former Soviet republic during 2016 to four.
European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on December 1 that the EU had confirmed reports by the rights group Amnesty International that death-row inmate Hyanadz Yakavitski had been executed by authorities in Belarus.
Mogherini did not specify when Yakavitski’s execution took place. But Amnesty International said on November 30 that Yakavitski was put to death sometime after November 5.
The EU on November 30 said it had confirmed the execution in November of two other death row inmates who had been convicted on murder charges -- 28-year-old Ivan Kulesh and 31-year-old Syarhey Khymyaleuski.
A fourth prisoner, Syarhey Ivanou, was executed in Belarus on April 18.
The EU condemned all of the executions, saying the death penalty runs counter to Belarus's stated willingness to engage with the international community.
Amnesty International's campaigner on Belarus, Aisha Jung, says the "sudden and shameful purge" of death-row prisoners in Belarus is "additionally shameful" because executions there "are typically shrouded in secrecy and carried out at a moment's notice."
Amnesty International says the three executions in November were carried out with gunshots to the back of the head.
The nongovernmental human rights organization says it also is concerned about the fate of another man on death row in Belarus -- Syarhey Vostrykau.
The EU, Amnesty International, and other human rights organizations have been calling on Minsk to join a moratorium on the death penalty for years.
Before April, an execution had not been carried out under the Belarusian legal system since November 2014.
According to rights groups, more than 400 people have been sentenced to death in Belarus since the early 1990s.
With reporting by spring96.org