Alyaksandr Lukashenka has pledged that an "information campaign" would be held in Belarus to discuss the use of the death penalty in the country.
"We are beginning a series of related events ranging from a parliamentary hearing to the media coverage of the issue," the Belarusian leader said in Wednesday’s interview with journalists representing Italy’s most influential daily newspaper La Stampa.
"But the people’s opinion will play the crucial role in the making of a decision as to whether the death penalty should be abolished," Mr. Lukashenka said.
The Belarusian leader stressed that a majority of the Belarusians had voted for the preservation of the capital punishment in the 1996 national referendum. Under the constitution, Mr. Lukashenka said, a new referendum should be called to cancel a decision made as a result of a previous referendum.
He expressed the opinion that if the question is again put to voters in a referendum, "the results will be the same."
Belarus is the only country in Europe where death executions still take place.
The European Union and the Council of Europe have many times called upon the Belarusian authorities to abolish the death penalty or declare a moratorium on its use.