Updated at 10:32,27-07-2021

Lukashenka says that execution of Kanavalaw and Kavalyow became “another tragedy“ in his life


Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on Tuesday that the execution of Dzmitry Kanavalaw and Uladzislaw Kavalyow had become "another tragedy" in his life.

The 26-year-old men, who were sentenced to death in last year's subway bombing trial, were executed earlier this month after Mr. Lukashenka refused to spare them the death penalty.

Speaking in an interview with television channel Russia Today in Moscow, Mr. Lukashenka said that he felt for the parents of the young men "whom I cannot help." He reiterated that rejecting someone's appeal for clemency was the toughest part of his job. "As far as I remember, I have pardoned only one person during my presidency," he said.

Mr. Lukashenka said that the European Union had never asked him to grant a reprieve to Messrs. Kanavalaw and Kavalyow. "The European Union has always demanded that we abolish the death penalty," he noted.

Mr. Lukashenka denied that the EU had offered any concessions to Minsk in return for sparing the pair death. "Political concessions on the part of the West require political steps to meet the West halfway. This was purely criminal activity and extremely ghastly criminal activity that cannot be forgiven. I think they would do the same both in Russia and other countries," he said.

Mr. Lukashenka described the subway bombing trial as completely transparent and dismissed doubts over its fairness.

As a result of their trial held between September 15 and November 30, Messrs. Kanavalaw and Kavalyow, were convicted of two 2005 bomb explosions in Vitsyebsk, a bomb attack during an open-air Independence Day concert in Minsk in July 2008 and the subway bombing in April 2011. The Supreme Court of Belarus found Mr. Kanavalaw guilty of committing the explosions and Mr. Kavalyow was found guilty of being accomplice to the crimes.

Mr. Kanavalaw denied involvement in the bomb explosions in Vitsyebsk; Mr. Kavalyow denied his complicity in all the bomb attacks.

Eleven people were immediately killed and four more died later in hospitals after the bomb blast ripped through the Kastrychnitskaya subway station in Minsk during the evening rush hour on April 11, 2011. More than 200 people were wounded.

Messrs. Kanavalaw and Kavalyow were arrested the following day after the attack.

European politicians and institutions repeatedly urged the Belarusian authorities not to execute the men, describing capital punishment as inhumane and noting that the pair had not received a fair trial.

Executions in Belarus are carried out by a gunshot to the back of the head. Neither the condemned nor their relatives are told of the scheduled date of the execution, and the relatives are not told where the body is buried.

Belarus remains the last country in Europe to administer the death penalty.