On 28 April, the Belarusian National Assembly approved an amendment to the Criminal Code, introducing the death penalty for “attempted acts of terrorism”, a move that goes in the opposite direction to the global trend of abandoning the death penalty.

Independent opinion polls reveal that ninety-one percent of Belarusians support the Ukrainians’ struggle against the Russian invasion. Sabotage is already taking place, mainly on the railways carrying weapons and Russian troops. Many Belarusian soldiers have deserted the army, while many are fighting on the side of the Ukrainians.

In mid-March, railway workers carried out a series of sabotages of Russian trains, destroyed Russian equipment, and distributed leaflets to Russian soldiers urging them not to invade Ukraine.

At the end of March, the regime arrested 33 workers at the Mozyr oil refinery on suspicion of sabotage. On March 31, special forces opened fire, unsuccessfully, on sabotage railway workers.

“Apart from the death penalty for ‘attempted acts of terrorism,’ Lukashenka’s parliament has also voted to allow internal troops to use firearms to suppress ‘mass riots,’ wrote on his Tweeter account on 28 April Franak Viačorka @franakviacorka, Senior Advisor to the leader of Belarusian democratic oppotition Sviatlana Tsihanouskaya. “The regime is terribly afraid of the protests on the streets again & threatens the people with this.”

But the longer the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenka is isolated, the more the opposition is recognized internationally and gains power inside the country.

The EU demands the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners

On 29 April, the Spokesperson of EEAS issued a Statement on new repressive measures widening the scope for the use of capital punishment.

“The death penalty violates the inalienable right to life enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

The amendment of the penal code gives the possibility for further serious abuse. Many political prisoners (36) have been charged or already condemned to long prison terms under the Code’s ‘terrorism’ provisions. Many representatives of the democratic forces and political activists are wanted under ‘terrorism’ charges. Many of the accused are tried in secret, unfair and biased trials, often under fabricated charges and with no legal safeguards. Now they also risk the death penalty.

The current political context in Belarus makes this development even more worrying. The complicity of Lukashenko in enabling and supporting the Russian military aggression by providing its territory for the attack on Ukraine has been condemned by the EU in the strongest possible terms.

The regime continues its brutal repression of its own population. Human Rights Defenders, journalists and political activists face completely unjustified and very long prison sentences. Recently, trade unionists were also targeted.

The EU reiterates its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. The EU will continue its support to the democratic forces in the country and to a free, independent and prosperous Belarus.”

Belarus democratic opposition international recognition

During his visit to Poland, US President Joe Biden formally invited opposition leader Tsihanouskaya to attend his speech and had a telephone conversation with her.

“In a telephone conversation today, I assured @POTUS [the American president] that the people of Belarus are at the forefront of the struggle for freedom; we stand firmly on the side of the people of Ukraine,” she wrote on Twitter on March 6.

Most European Union governments are now talking to Tsihanouskaya.

On 29 April Tsikhanouskaya met with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. They discussed the Lukashenka regime’s continued support of Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine and U.S. efforts to hold the regime accountable for its complicity, as well as for its sustained crackdown on human rights and democratic freedoms. Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined the group for part of the meeting. Deputy Secretary Sherman, together with Tsikhanouskaya, called for an end to the Lukashenka regime’s ongoing crackdown on democratic voices and for the unconditional release of all political prisoners in Belarus and emphasized the United States’ enduring support for the Belarusian people’s democratic aspirations.