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Lukashenka Calls Trial Of Subway Bombers 'Transparent, Fair'

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says he believes the trial and execution of the two alleged Minsk subway bombers, who were put to death last week, was "transparent and fair."

The authoritarian Lukashenka defended the trial and execution of the two men in a new interview broadcast on the Russian state-controlled RT television channel.

He claimed the proceedings were "absolutely transparent from the beginning to the end."

The Belarusian regime has faced a torrent of international criticism in the wake of the weekend executions, amid questions about evidence in the case and concerns about the legal rights of the convicts, Uladzislau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau.

The bombing in April 2011 killed 15 people.

Analysts have noted that the bombing occurred at a time of political unrest in Belarus -- just weeks after hundreds of political opponents of Lukashenka had been arrested in the wake of disputed presidential elections in December, 2010, in which Lukashenka received another term in office.

Lukashenka has ruled Belarus without interruption since 1994, and the country has never held an election deemed free and fair by international observers since he came to power.

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

Belarusian state television reported on March 17 that Kanavalau and Kavalyou had been executed.

International Condemnation

The announcement came just three days after Lukashenka rejected formal appeals by the two convicts against their executions.

The men had been convicted and sentenced to death in November, following a trial that critics said suffered from a lack of due process and a shortage of physical evidence linking the men to the crime.

The speedy executions, by a bullet to the back of the head, have renewed questions about the fairness and legality of the Belarusian court process.

In the television interview, Lukashenka said representatives of Russia’s Federal Security Service, Israel’s Mossad and the international police agency Interpol took part in the bombing investigation and "nobody had any doubts or questions on every stage of the investigations."

The European Union and international human rights organizations condemned the executions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Belarus on March 20 to join the rest of Europe and impose a moratorium on the death penalty.

Belarus is the only country in Europe that still practices the death penalty.

Calls For Ice Hockey Boycott Slammed

In related news, Lukashenka has denounced lawmakers in the European Parliament for calling for Belarus to be stripped of the right to host the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship due to widespread human rights violations by his regime.

Speaking to RT, Lukashenka, who is known for his passion for ice hockey, described the call as "a political move" with "no relation to sports."

Earlier this month, a group of European Parliament lawmakers urged a boycott of the 2014 championship in Minsk if the International Hockey Federation refuses to move the event to another country.

European Parliament lawmakers have warned hockey authorities that hosting an international competition in Belarus could lend legitimacy to Lukashenka’s authoritarian regime.

With reporting by Interfax and AFP
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