Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Committee have both condemned the executions of two death row inmates in Belarus whose cases were under review by the UN.

The men were identified by the UN as Oleg Grishovtsov and Andrei Burdyko, sentenced for the killing of three people during an armed robbery in the western city of Grodno in October 2009. 

Both men alleged they did not receive a fair trial and that they were tortured during interrogation. The exact date of the executions remains unknown but it is presumed by the UN that they took place between July 13 and 19.

The UN committee (not to be confused with the UN Human Rights Council) monitors political and civil rights. It had asked authorities in Belarus not to carry out the executions while the cases were under consideration.

It is the second time in less than two years that individuals whose cases were pending before the UN committee have been executed in Belarus.  In March 2009 Andrei Zhuk and Vasily Yuzepchuk were executed for crimes including murder, despite the committee’s request for interim measures of protection.

The UN sent a letter to Belarus’ Permanent Mission in Geneva saying, “The imposition of a death sentence after a trial that did not meet the requirements for a fair trial amounts to a violation of articles 14 and 6 of the (International Civil and Political Rights) covenant.”

According to Amnesty International, Andrei Burdyka's mother visited the prison where her son was being held on July 25th.  She was told he had been shot and was handed his clothing and glasses. Neither of the families was officially informed of the executions.

In Belarus, prisoners on death row are told that they will be executed only moments before the sentence is carried out. They are shot in the back of the head; sometimes more than one bullet is needed. The body is not handed over to the family, who are often informed only afterwards, and the place of burial is kept secret.


The July/August of The Global Journal examines the unquenchable spirit of the democratic opposition in Belarus.