Life imprisonment was introduced in Belarus in 1997. Thus there was no such an alternative to death penalty when the referendum was held in 1996.
Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, article 58
1. Life imprisonment can be administered for the offences associated with the first-degree murder as an exceptional measure of punishment alternative to the death penalty
2. Life imprisonment cannot be prescribed to:
1) Persons, who committed crime before they reached the age of 18
3) Male who had reached the age of 65 by the day the sentence was passed
3. Convicts sentenced to life imprisonment serve the sentence in a strict regime penal colony or prison
4. Court can substitute subsequent serving of life imprisonment for a convict, sentenced to life imprisonment, or a convict, that was granted pardon by the way of commutation the death penalty to life imprisonment, for imprisonment for a particular term, but not more than 5 years, taking into consideration behavior of this convict, the state of his health or age, after he has served 20 years of his sentence.