A video about the death penalty in Belarus has appeared on The Люди project Youtube channel.
“There were always reserve shooters, but only one shot. Sometimes they had to shoot even four times, when the first bullet did not kill. When a doctor said that the heart was still beating, one could wait for the death, or shoot again. It was me who took the decision,” Aleh Alkayeu, a former head of the Minsk detention facility No 1 (1996-2001), said in the film.
Aleh Alkayeu, who was granted political asylum in Germany, is the autor of the book Shooters Team. In 2001, he stated that Lukashenka’s critics and rivals Viktar Hanchar and Yury Zakharanka as well as businessman Anatol Krasouski, were killed from a special execution pistol that was given out at an order of the then Interior Minister Yury Sivakou.
“I was shocked at the fact that there may be so much blood in a human head. I was embarrassed at the sight of the blood fountain from the head,” he recalled one of the executions he was present at.
According to him, the executioners ‘knew what they did’ and had no issues with it. Apart from brutal stories, the video contains information about the death convicts’ daily regimen.
“Usually, they don’t have money. They did not purchase food in the prison shop, mainly cigarettes. There were two or three persons in each cell. If I’m not mistaken, there were 17 cells,” Alkayeu said.
Belarus remains the only country in Europe that still applies capital punishment. The West has repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to join a global moratorium as a first step towards the abolition of death penalty.
The exact number of executions in Belarus is unknown, but local human rights defenders and journalists have worked tirelessly to uncover some information about death sentences and executions. According to the Ministry of Justice of Belarus, 245 people were sentenced to death from 1994 to 2014. Human rights NGOs believe that around 400 people have been executed since the country gained its independence in 1991; president Alyaksandr Lukashenka granted a pardon to only one convict.