The leader of a group of Belarusians in exile, found hanged in a park in Ukraine

Activist Vitali Shishov, in an undated image provided by the organization he worked for in Ukraine.AP

The leader of a group that helps Belarusian dissidents to leave the country, Vitali Shishov, was found dead this Tuesday, hanged in a tree in a park in Kiev, according to the police, who do not rule out that it is a simulated suicide to hide a murder. Shishov’s friends reported him missing hours after he went for a run on Monday and did not return or answer the phone.

Belarusian citizen Vitali Shishov, who disappeared yesterday [por el lunes] in Kiev, he was found hanged today [por el martes] in one of the parks in Kiev, not far from his place of residence, “says the police note, which has already announced the opening of a criminal investigation for homicide, which will examine” all possibilities “, including suicide simulated to hide a murder.

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Shishov headed the Belarusian House in Ukraine (BDU in its acronym in Belarusian), whose headquarters are in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, one of the three countries, along with Poland and Lithuania, which have become the main havens for Belarusians fleeing the persecution unleashed by Aleksandr Lukashenko’s regime, especially as of the August 2020 elections. Those elections, in which the electoral commission attributed 80% of the votes to who is known as “the last dictator of Europe ”, were marked by allegations of fraud and manipulation by the country’s opposition, which did not recognize Lukashenko’s overwhelming official victory.

The activist who was found hanged this Tuesday helped, through his organization, other dissidents in his country to find accommodation, work and legal advice. Since Monday, the Belarusian House in Ukraine had warned that his whereabouts were unknown, after leaving his home at nine in the morning to play sports. According to the organization, Shishov planned to return home only an hour later. When they were unable to contact him, his colleagues reported him missing.

His relatives have denounced on the social network Twitter that the dissident had been followed in recent times, a surveillance that he had denounced to the police, according to the Ukrainian journalist Tadeusz Giczan. According to this journalist, who quotes Shishov’s friends, the Belarusian activist had gone into exile in Ukraine in the fall of 2020, after participating in protests over Lukashenko’s alleged electoral fraud.

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The organization that had co-founded the activist has released a statement confirming that they had been “repeatedly warned both by local sources and by our people in the Republic of Belarus about all kinds of provocations, including [el riesgo de] kidnapping and murder. ”“ Vitali [Shishov] he received these warnings stoically and with humor ”, the note states.

The Belarusian House in Ukraine planned to organize a march in Kiev on August 8 to mark a year since the start of the demonstrations against the Lukashenko regime.

The Belarusian authorities routinely characterize anti-government protesters as criminals or Western-backed terrorists. The discovery of Shishov’s body happens when the Belarusian regime is immersed in a new scandal after the complaint, by the Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, that the authorities of her country tried to repatriate her by force from Tokyo after she criticized in his social networks to the Olympic committee of his country, chaired by Lukashenko’s eldest son. The athlete – who refused to board the plane that was supposed to return her to Minsk, the Belarusian capital, and requested protection from the airport police in the Japanese capital – has obtained a humanitarian visa from Poland, where she is scheduled to travel this Wednesday .

The Belarusian regime is already subject to sanctions by the European Union, after on May 23 the authorities of that country forced the diversion and emergency landing in Minsk of a commercial flight of the Ryanair company, which was traveling from Greece to Lithuania, to arrest the journalist Roman Protasevich, persecuted by the Lukashenko regime, and his partner, the Russian citizen Sofía Sapega. Since the start of the protests in August last year, more than 33,000 people have been arrested and thousands of them retaliated in Belarus.

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