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Belarus And The Death Penalty

A Belarus court on November 30 convicted and sentenced to death two men for a bomb attack in the Minsk subway in April 2011 that killed 15 people and wounded around 200 others.

Here's more on capital punishment in the only country in Europe that still executes its criminals, courtesy of RFE/RL's Belarus Service.

How many people have been sentenced to death in Belarus?

Amnesty International reports that roughly 400 individuals have been executed in Belarus for various crimes since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Although as an OSCE member, Belarus is obliged to provide full official statistics on death penalty cases, it has never done so.

Currently one man, Ihar Myalik, is on death row in Belarus for murders committed during robbery. The country's Supreme Court upheld his sentence in February 2011.

According to official data from the Belarusian Interior Ministry, 102 individuals have been sentenced to death in the period from 1998 to 2010; nine people were executed in 2006; at least one person was executed in 2007; three individuals were executed in 2008.

Former Belarus Constitutional Court Chairman Ryhor Vasilevich wrote in the Belarusian media recently that 25 people were executed in Belarus in 1994; 37 in 1995; 29 in 1996; 46 in 1997; and 47 in 1998.

The Justice Ministry reported this year that 85 individuals were sentenced to death in the period between 1990 and 1993.

In 2009, two Belarusians were sentenced to death: Andrey Zhuk, for armed assault and murder; and Vasil Yuzapchuk, for the murders of six elderly women. Both were executed in 2010 despite domestic and international protests against capital punishment.

In 2010, two men from the western Belarusian city of Hrodna -- Andrey Burdyka and Aleh Hryshkavets -- were sentenced to death for a triple murder. Both were executed this year.

What about capital punishment in the former Soviet Union and around the world?

According to Amnesty International, at least 17,800 people around the world were sentenced to death in 2010. In 2009, Amnesty International reports, at least 714 people were executed; in 2010, the number of executions was at least 527. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Yemen are among the countries where death sentences are most frequently imposed.

Capital punishment has been abolished -- either legislatively or through moratoriums -- in 139 countries around the world in the past decade.

Among former Soviet states, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have officially adopted legislation abolishing the death penalty. Kazakhstan, Russia, and Tajikistan have introduced moratoriums on executions since 1991.

Do Belarusians favor the death penalty?

Belarus remains the only country in Europe that continues to carry out the death penalty.

According to polling conducted by the Presidential Information and Analytical Center in Belarus in 2010, 79.5 percent of Belarusians don't want to abolish the death penalty for serious crimes. Seven percent of respondents say they support preserving the death penalty with a possible moratorium on its execution. Just 4.5 percent of Belarusians say they want the death penalty abolished immediately.

Meanwhile, polling by independent organizations in Belarus paints a different picture. According to a survey by the Sociologists Center in Minsk in 2010, 48 percent of the population supports abolition of the death penalty. Similar polls held by another independent organization in Belarus, NOVAK, suggest 39 percent of Belarusian citizens want capital punishment abolished.