MINSK, March 9 (Reuters) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a law on Thursday (Mar 9) allowing for the use of the death penalty against officials and army servicemen convicted of high treason, his office said.

Belarus, a close ally of Russia, is the only country in Europe that still applies the death penalty. It already exists for crimes such as murder or for acts of terrorism.

Executions are carried out with a single shot to the back of the head.

The new law is part of changes to the criminal code aimed at strengthening Belarus' fight against "crimes of an extremist (terrorist) and anti-state orientation".

Under another change approved by Lukashenko on Thursday, anybody found guilty of "discrediting" the Belarusian armed forces will face a jail term. Russia passed a similar law after invading neighbouring Ukraine just over a year ago.

Belarus has not sent its own troops into Ukraine, but it allowed Russia to use its territory as a launchpad for its operation in February 2022 and has since let Russian warplanes and drones use its airspace for attacks on Ukraine.