The new death sentence was passed in Belarus

On 20 November, 2015 Ivan Kulesh from Belarus was sentenced to death penalty. European human rights defenders and politicians responded to such sentence, urging the Belarusian authorities to renounce this form of punishment.

Ivan Kulesh was found guilty of three murders, theft, robbery as well as another attempted murder. The facts, that Ivan Kulesh has a minor child, as well as that he personally confessed of the crimes and turned himself in was found as mitigating. The fact that Kulesh was under the influence during the crimes and his previous crimes were named as aggravating factors. Previous mental deviations of Ivan Kulesh were not taken into account by the court, as a special examination found that at the time of the murder Kulesh was not in affective state and did understand what he was doing. The inconsistencies of the defendant’s testimony with one from the investigation materials have been explained by the fact that at the time the crime Kulesh was drunk and it was a long time ago.

Let us recall, that the trial in this case has started on 14 September. The accused, 28-year-old Ivan Kulesh was raised in the orphanage, lived without a family, has finished only 9 years of school. At age of 18, he was first convicted for theft. In 2014 he was accused of false denunciation and theft. Ivan Kulesh did not work anywhere officially. He earned money by mushroom and berry picking, and other temporary underworking. He lived in the village Sialets of Lida district, although he was registered in the Baranavichi district. He has a small child.

The European Union: death penalty is inhumane

The European External Action Service has released a statement on the death penalty in Belarus, in which it expressed concern about the passing of another death sentence in Belarus and reminded the authorities about the inhumanity of capital punishment. “Mr Kulesh was convicted for serious crimes and we extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the victim of these crimes. Nevertheless, the European Union opposes capital punishment in all cases as it cannot be justified under any circumstances. The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.

The European Union urges Belarus, the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment, to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition.”- is said in the statement.

Amnesty International calls to reverse the sentence and stop the planned punishments

International human rights organization Amnesty International has spread a memorandum, in which it calls to seek the abolition of the death sentence for Ivan Kulesh.

Amnesty International calls to:

– Immediately write an appeal to the president, urging President Lukashenka to halt any planned executions and immediately commute the death sentence handed down to Ivan Kulesh and all others sentenced to death in Belarus;

– Call on the President to establish an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing it;

– Stress that whilst we are not seeking to downplay the seriousness of the crime of which Ivan Kulesh has been convicted, research shows that death penalty does not deter crime whilst it is also the ultimate denial of human rights.


​​Belarus is the last country in the European area where the death penalty is still practiced. In Belarus, the death sentence is to be executed by a special squad of MIA in Minsk jail №1 by shooting. As in Soviet times, the date and time of execution is not reported, and the body is not given to the relatives, the place of burial is not disclosed.

The atmosphere of secrecy regarding the issues of death penalty in the country should be noted. Representatives of “Human rights defenders against the death penalty in Belarus” campaign , which is working since 2009, known only the amount of passed and executed death penalties. Thus, since 1990 in Belarus 329 people were sentenced to death. Of these, 281 sentence was passed between 1990 and 1999. After 1999 there is a trend to a sharp decrease in the number of convictions. Thus, from 2000 to 2013 50 death sentences were issued. This fact is primarily associated with the appearance in 1998 in the Criminal Code of Belarus an alternative punishment to the death penalty – life imprisonment.

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