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Belarus

In Wake Of Belarus Executions, Doubts About Judicial Process

A combo photo of Uladzislau Kavalyou (left) and Dzmitry Kanavalau during a court hearing in Minsk in September 2011.
A combo photo of Uladzislau Kavalyou (left) and Dzmitry Kanavalau during a court hearing in Minsk in September 2011.

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Minsk Subway Bombing Executions Condemned

The execution of two men convicted of a deadly 2011 metro bomb attack in the Belarusian capital has drawn strong international condemnation.
By Hanna Sous and Daisy Sindelar
VITSEBSK, Belarus -- Candles and flowers litter the stairwell outside the apartment of Lyubou Kavalyova, the mother of one of the two men executed for the April 2011 subway bombing in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

Dozens of people have gathered at the site to express their condolences to the grieving mother, even forming a human chain winding up the stairs to the front door of Kavalyova's modest Vitsebsk flat.

Inside, Kavalyova -- who fought a public battle to save the life of her son, 26-year-old Uladzislau Kavalyou -- sits shakily on a sofa, holding a photograph of her child and fighting back tears. "I can't believe that my son is gone," Kavalyova says. "My soul -- I don't know -- it can't accept it."

Kavalyou and a childhood friend, Dzmitry Kanavalau, were each executed by a single bullet to the back of the head shortly after the country's authoritarian leader, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, denied a plea for clemency.

Their families then received a formal letter, dated March 16, informing them that the sentences had been carried out.

In The Dark

Belarus, the only country in Europe that still uses the death penalty, has maintained the Soviet-era practice of not informing family members ahead of executions.

The two men were apprehended the day after the bombing, a rare act of terrorism in Belarus that left 15 people dead and hundreds more wounded.

They were convicted and sentenced to death in November following a trial that critics said suffered from a lack of due process and physical evidence linking the men to the crime.

Kanavalau initially admitted to carrying out the bombing but then refused to make an opening or closing statement or testify in his own defense.

Kavalyou, who was considered an accessory to the bombing, offered a confession but later retracted, claiming he had confessed under pressure. Family members claim both men were beaten and threatened during police interrogation.

Flowers and photos of Uladzislau Kavalyou on a table in the apartment of his mother in MinskFlowers and photos of Uladzislau Kavalyou on a table in the apartment of his mother in Minsk
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Flowers and photos of Uladzislau Kavalyou on a table in the apartment of his mother in Minsk
Flowers and photos of Uladzislau Kavalyou on a table in the apartment of his mother in Minsk
Prosecutors offered no motive for the attacks, other than that the two men sought to disrupt the country's social order.

The subway bombing struck at a time of political unrest in Belarus, just weeks after hundreds of political opponents had been arrested in the wake of controversial presidential elections handing Lukashenka a fresh term.

At the time, activists suggested Lukashenka was attempting to use the Minsk attack as a pretext for additional security clampdowns, as well as an opportunity to distract the public from a looming economic crisis.

Some observers suggested Kanavalau and Kavalyou may have been acting on the orders of a third party.

Vasil Kaptsiukh, whose 21-year-old son Raman was among those killed in the April 11 blast, says Kanavalau and Kavalyou did nothing to protest their innocence or implicate others during the trial.

Still, he says, the execution was far from welcome news.

"Regarding my opinion about the sentence, I've always been against the death penalty," Kaptsiukh says. "For the parents, it's a very cruel thing. I've experienced myself what it means to lose a child, and I can imagine how their mothers must feel now."

WATCH -- Lyubou Kavalyova speaks about the execution of her son, Uladzislau Kavalyou:
Mother Of Executed Belarusian Prisoner: 'I Can't Accept It'i
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March 19, 2012
Uladzislau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau have been executed in Belarus after being convicted of carrying out a deadly 2011 bombing in the Minsk subway. RFE/RL's Belarus Service spoke to Kavalyou's mother, Lyubou Kavalyova, shortly after she received news of her son's execution.

The executions have sparked anger in Belarus, where protesters in Minsk lit candles outside the subway station that was the site of the blast.

Some observers accused authorities of racing to execute the men in just four months in order to bury complaints about the trial. Normally, it takes one or two years after a sentencing before an execution is carried out.

The European Union has likewise condemned the move, which came even as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was making a direct appeal for the executions to be delayed or overturned.

Earlier, Lyubou Kavalyova had taken the unprecedented step of traveling to Brussels to address the European Parliament and ask for their help in commuting the death sentence.

She had also helped her son file an appeal against his death sentence with the United Nations Committee on Human Rights and was awaiting a response at the time of his execution.

In Lukashenka's Hands

Aleh Alkayeu, the former head of the execution squad at Minsk prison No. 1, where hundreds of death sentences have been carried out, says he believes the executions could have been prevented if activists had not appealed for help to Western bodies, and particularly the EU.

Minsk residents lay flowers at the Kastrychnitskaya subway station, the site of the April 2011 bombing, on March 19.Minsk residents lay flowers at the Kastrychnitskaya subway station, the site of the April 2011 bombing, on March 19.
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Minsk residents lay flowers at the Kastrychnitskaya subway station, the site of the April 2011 bombing, on March 19.
Minsk residents lay flowers at the Kastrychnitskaya subway station, the site of the April 2011 bombing, on March 19.
Lyubou Kavalyova in particular took the unprecedented step of traveling to Brussels to address the European Parliament and ask for their help in commuting the death sentence.

Alkayeu, who now lives in Germany, says he saw only one death sentence pardoned out of around 400 during his time as prison chief in Minsk.

He suggests Kavalyova may have provoked Lukashenka by looking West rather than appealing to him directly, at a time when his dictatorial regime has come under increasingcastigation by the West.

"I said to her, 'If you're trying to save someone, there's only one way -- ask the president for a pardon,'" Alkayeu says. "I know all too well that the European structures help very little. They don't try to use methods of persuasion; instead, they try to operate from a position of force, and that's unacceptable in a dictatorship. The European Parliament has no realistic way to level a serious threat."

Kavalyova, having lost her battle, has now expressed the wish that her son's body be returned to her for proper burial -- a violation of Belarusian prison procedure.

"I know that they don't give the bodies of executed prisoners to their mothers," she says. "But they've forced him to pay for their own sins, so maybe they'll give me his body in return."

Written in Prague by Daisy Sindelar based on reporting by RFE/RL Belarus Service correspondent Anna Sous in Minsk. Correspondent Aleh Hruzdzilovich also contributed to this report

Daisy Sindelar

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: CJ from: SK, Canada
March 19, 2012 18:31
I understand the authiorirtes in Belarus can not be influenced by EU instuttions. Those involved in Belarusian authority are not European, they are not human..not even animals. They are the garbage you might scrap off the bottom of your shoe. This is a terrrible case, and I feel for all Belarussians who have a heart.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 20, 2012 09:32
It's really interesting how RFE/RL decides what comment to publish and what not. Here is this gringo from Canada, who has more blood on his NATO hands than a butcher in a meat-store, and yet this "individual" has the nerve to decide who is "human" and who is "the garbage you might scrap off the bottom of your shoe". And the RFE/RL gringos still publish this crap.
And when I yeasterday wanted to publish some info on EU arms sales to the most democratic country of the world (Saudi Arabia, of course), they apparently thought it was too offensive and did not publish it.
In Response

by: Anonymous
March 20, 2012 19:00
My best friend works at NATO HQ! It's an amazing orgaization! Other commentors seem to miss the point. It has nothing to do with being gulity or not guilty or blood on ones hands; it's all about rule of law and those who control it. Canada is not perfect, however, at least an individual has a flighting chance to defend onself regardless of what the final verdict might be. As for the last comment on this page; has this guy ever been to Belarus? I trust Lukashenko like I would trust old G.W.B.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 21, 2012 09:30
Anonymous, it's not about Canada being a perfect or an imperfect place, and it's not even about NATO being "amazing" :-)). The problem is the mindset of (certain) people from NATO countries, who - even as they have just been kicked out of IRAQ, are being defeated in AFGHANISTAN and are simply going bankrupt (a number of them) still think that it is their business to meddle into affairs of other states.
Judging by your English, you are probably from the US/ Canada/ UK yourself (or maybe from Auckland, like Andrew :-). So, dude, the sooner you realize that it's IN YOUR OWN INTEREST to STAY OUT OF PLACES like Afghanistan or Syria or Belarus, THE BETTER FOR YOU.
Cheers from Vienna!

by: John from: Canada
March 19, 2012 22:20
Interesting 17 March tweet from Kommersant FM journalist Konstantin v.Eggert ‏ (@kvoneggert): "Lukashenko court decides to "destroy" material evidence from the Minsk metro explosion case. We now know who did it.

Former Head of Belarusian Execution Squad Speaks Out:
http://pik.tv/en/cj/item/former-head-of-belarusian-execution-squad-speaks-out

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
March 20, 2012 00:59
If I ever placed a bomb in a public place and killed 15 people and wounded hundreds, I would expect to be executed if I got caught. I wouldn't expect anyone to shed a tear for me, not even my mother. She raised me better than that, to respect other people and the sanctity of life. I could never understand the outpouring of grief for these two murdering terrorists. The muslim terrorists around the world have lowered the status of this type of heinous crime to the status of the cost of life in this cruel world.
In Response

by: Ada
March 21, 2012 00:41
Did you actually read this article??? There is NO clear evidence that this 2 young men were responsible for the bombing!!! Do you know what is going on In Belorusia in the last years or you are just commenting for the sake of commenting??
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 21, 2012 09:37
What has been going on in Belarus for the last 15 years or so is the policy aimed at preventing the state economy from being plundered by foreign (primarily German and US) capitalists. And this is the ONLY reason why this kind of outlets of cheap propaganda gringa as RFE/RL are so desperate to present Belarus (just like any other country where the gringos are being shown their way out) as a "living hell". Interestingly enough: they have not achieve much in respect to Belarus in more than 15 years already - congratulations, guys :-)!
In Response

by: Joe from: Prague
March 22, 2012 20:28
I love these "Eugenio" attempts to spit the KGB propaganda on civilized people. "Eugenio", were you the pimp that brought prostitutes to Batka when he was vacationing in Austria a couple of years ago?

"Eugenio", stop using google translator, people in civilized countries dont watch BT or use Belta as their main source of information. Go comment in TUT.by because your brain dead audience is there.

by: Johann from: USA
March 20, 2012 23:19
If this terrorists, would have lived in Texas USA, they for sure would have been executed. Terrorism is not acceptable, neither in Belarus, nor in Texas, USA !!! I have three bumperstikers on my car. 1. Don't mess with Texas 2. The American flag. 3. America, love it or leave it ( I am a immigrant )
In Response

by: Michael from: Los Angeles
March 22, 2012 19:14
Say Eugenio from Venna, if you like Lukashenko and his regime why don't you move to Belarus and live there?

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
March 21, 2012 04:39
Certainly there is enough evidence against the boys in terrorist acts and the death of numbers of people...But Lukashenko is also wrong, could postpone the execution at least for some time..

And where are the leaders of the Western powers, which are fanatically against the death penalty... could "brave warrior" Mr. Sarkozy call for direct to Lukashenko and ask to delay execution? Or In case of refusal fear to lose reputation?..or:"I can not do such a thing in my presidential campaign..."
Well, then Sarkozy's mouth should be less open and more silent
by the way
this also applies to other "great leaders" of Europe..

by: Ben
March 21, 2012 17:33
There are no limits of the idiocy! Flowers for terrorists not for their victims! This is everywhere in the Mid East and I `ve always thought that it is the Jew-hatred demonstration,how wrong I was.This is the leftist journalist`s "sharpening" on the next condemnation.

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