Head of Belarusian exile group found hanged in Ukraine, police open murder case By Reuters


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© Reuters. Vitaly Shishov, head of a Kyiv-based organisation that helps Belarusians fleeing persecution, is seen in Kyiv, Ukraine July 18, 2021. Image taken July 18, 2021. RBC-Ukraine/Handout by way of REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

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By Natalia Zinets and Margaryta Chornokondratenko

KYIV (Reuters) -A Belarusian activist dwelling in exile in Ukraine was discovered hanged in a park close to his house in Kyiv early on Tuesday, and Ukrainian police stated that they had launched a homicide case.

Vitaly Shishov, who led a Kyiv-based organisation that helps Belarusians fleeing persecution, had been reported lacking by his associate on Monday after failing to return house from a run.

Police stated that they had launched a prison case for suspected homicide, together with investigating whether or not attackers had tried to disguise the killing as suicide.

Shishov, 26, had felt beneath fixed surveillance since he left Belarus final 12 months after participating in anti-government protests, his colleagues stated. He had been warned about attainable threats, together with being kidnapped or killed.

Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania have develop into havens for Belarusians throughout a crackdown by President Alexander Lukashenko following a disputed election final 12 months. Tens of hundreds of individuals have been detained and main opposition figures are both in jail or dwelling overseas.

“It’s worrying that those that flee Belarus nonetheless cannot be protected,” exiled opposition determine Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya stated on Twitter.

Shishov’s demise was reported by the Belarus official information company Belta, however the Minsk authorities didn’t in any other case remark. Lukashenko’s spokesperson couldn’t be reached.

Yuri Shchuchko, a pal of Shishov, who helped police establish the physique, stated Shishov’s nostril had been damaged. A police spokesperson declined remark when requested about this.

In Might a dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich, was detained by Belarusian safety forces after his flight was pressured to land in Minsk. This week, a Belarusian athlete took refuge within the Polish embassy in Tokyo after refusing her staff’s orders to fly house from the Olympics.

SOUNDING THE ALARM

Shishov led the Belarusian Home in Ukraine (BDU) group, which helps Belarusians discover lodging, jobs and authorized recommendation.

“We have been additionally repeatedly warned by each native sources and our individuals within the Republic of Belarus about all types of provocations, together with kidnapping and liquidation,” BDU stated in a press release. “Vitaly handled these warnings stoically and with humour.”

Ihor, 24, a fellow Belarusian exile who has identified Shishov since final October, advised Reuters that Shishov knew he was beneath surveillance, recounting situations of his automotive being adopted or his girlfriend being approached by strangers whereas they have been staging protests in Kyiv.

“Lukashenko’s regime is at conflict, and he’s at conflict. He’s at conflict with anybody who can supply any resistance,” stated Ihor, who gave solely his first title.

Shishov “didn’t endure from any psychological dysfunction, he was all the time very sober-minded. That is why when he disappeared, we sounded the alarm as a result of we knew he’s not an individual who might merely disappear, get drunk or get together someplace,” Ihor added.

The organisation had stated on Monday it was not capable of contact Shishov. It stated Shishov had left his residence at 9 a.m. (0600 GMT) and was imagined to have returned an hour later.

The Belarusian authorities have characterised anti-government protesters as criminals or violent revolutionaries backed by the West, and described the actions of their very own legislation enforcement businesses as acceptable and needed.

“It provides one other stage to our considerations about what is going on in Belarus,” stated Marta Hurtado, spokesperson for the U.N. human rights workplace, when requested about Shishov’s demise, although she stated she didn’t know whether or not it was related to politics.





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