From a legal perspective, the cases of abduction and assassinations of opposition leaders in Belarus are detected. Officials, who are suspected of committing these crimes, are found.
On August 17 in the central office of the Belarusian Popular Front party a press-conference was held. It was dedicated to the 10th anniversary of abductions of Belarusian politicians and public leaders: the former vice speaker of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus Viktar Hanchar, a public leader and businessman Anatol Krasouski, a former Interior Minister Yury Zavadski and a cameraman of Russian ORT TV channel Dzmitry Zavadski.
Human rights activists and relatives of the perished underscore that over the 10 years the investigation there is no progress in the case of the disappeared, and nothing is known about them.
As said by the lawyer of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Harry Pahanyajla, the actions of the authorities confirm the primary lead that top officials of Belarus are involved in disappearances of the opposition leaders.
“The cases relating abductions and assassinations of the opposition leaders and a journalist are continued to be investigated, the term of investigation has been extended for 2 months, but after these 10 years we do not have concrete results,” the human rights activist said. “Disappearance of Yury Zakharanka, a former Interior Minister, a person who had secret information about many problems of Belarus, haven’t encouraged the authorities to investigate this case thoroughly. The initiation of the criminal case itself was up in the air for a long time, and only after disappearances of Viktar Hanchar and Anatol Krasouski the criminal case was initiated at last. Naturally, the initial pieces of evidence were lost. In this way the authorities confirmed the primary lead about which the world community is speaking now: implication of the top officials of Belarus in these abductions. It is the only thing which can explain investigation and judicial authorities’ failure to act”.
Harry Pahanyajla states that from the legal point of view, the cases of high-profile disappearances in Belarus have been disclosed. “The persons, who are suspects in these crimes, have been detected. If it wasn’t so, we would receive refute of the politically motivated versions of the disappearances long ago,” the lawyer said.
As noted by the human rights activist, many international institutions are alarmed by the “politically motivated disappearances, and probably extrajudicial executions in Belarus”.
“But Belarusian authorities do not contribute to independent investigation at the territory of our country,” the human rights activist states. “Besides, they ban from entry European politicians, who are interested in the fate of the kidnapped. Thus, the PSCE delegate Christos Pourgourides was denied entry to Belarus”.
Time has come to hold Lukashenka accountable for political assassinations
The wife of the former Vice Speaker of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus, Zinaida Hanchar, states that for today the investigation of the case on Viktar Hanchar’s abduction is in fact stopped.
“We are extremely worried that these crimes could be pinned on absolutely innocent people,” she says. “In some police departments pictures of Hanchar and Krasouski have appeared already, and questioning about the red BMW, a car which traces were found at the site, has started. Certainly, it is a mocking investigation, and it looks ridiculous. Many people do not remember what was happening yesterday. And 10 years have passed in this case, and it is impossible to remember a red BMW”.
The relatives of the disappeared remind that once the former head of the Chief directorate of the criminal police Mikalai Lapatsik (Lopatik) wrote a report to the former head of the Interior Ministry Uladzimir Navumau. He wrote there to whom and when the former Secretary of the Security Council Viktar Sheiman ordered to exterminate Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar and Anatol Krasouski.
“After the report of Lapatsik, high-ranking officials who were mentioned in the report, were to be interrogated,” Zinaida Hanchar says. “But our demands to let us read at least with the interim results of investigation, were futile. Last time investigator Varauka denied any contacts and meetings completely. It comes to a complete idiocy. A document summoning my husband to the police department to be fingerprinted in the case of the blast on July 4 in Minsk, has been received twice. For many years he is invited to take part in elections, though I warned that he went missing 10 years ago”.
In an interview to Russian journalists published on June 10 in a newspaper “Zavtra”, Alyaksandr Lukashenka stated that the abducted opposition leaders had been murdered. However, not on his order, but allegedly “for the reason of business”.
“We have prepared an address to the Prosecutor General Ryhor Vasilevich, for him to be familiarized with the case and give an account to the society about what has been done over the 10 years of investigation,” Zinaida Hanchar said. “We have sent another address to presidents of Russia, Germany, France. We want them to demand Lukashenka to give an account in these cases, as for all these years he is saying that the cases of the abducted are under his special control. And it has been confirmed. His statement that the traces of the abductions are leading to Germany, say that Lukashenka should know more than our law-enforcing agencies. So the time has come to ask him”.
If there is no person, then there is no problem
The kidnapping of Dzmitry Zavadski is considered solved crime officially. Officers of the special interior ministry unit “Almaz” Valery Ihnatovich and Maxim Malik (they have been sentenced to life sentences), a former Interior Ministry Academy student Alyaksei Huz (sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment), and Syarhei Savushkin, a person with three prior convictions (sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment) were found perpetrators in the case.
All the verdicts were passed in a trial behind the closed doors. None of the facts confirming implication of the convicted in the abduction of Zavadski were presented to the public. None of them pleaded guilty. The body of the disappeared journalist hasn’t been found.
The mother of the abducted journalist, Volha Zavadskaya, does not believe that real culprits of her son’s abduction were placed behind the bars.
“The people have been convicted, they haven’t admitted their guilt, and no work is being done,” she said. “All our attempts to receive protocols of investigative activities were futile for all these years. If there is no person, then there is no problem. So all efforts were used to condemn people, and the authorities stopped activities. It is not proved by the court whether they are guilty or not. There is an impression that the authorities are not interested for these cases to be detected at all. I think in terror what could happen; and that everything could be stopped after the period of the statute of limitations. That’s the main thing I fear”.
As said by the leader of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka, the Belarusian authorities would try to close the cases of the abducted opposition leaders in the near future.
“People in Belarus can forgive many things: economic problems, total lawlessness, but they would never forgive political murders to anyone,” the UCP leader states. “In fact no issues sensitive for the regime are left in the relations of the official Minsk and the world community. One problem is left, which cannot be taken off from the agenda by Brussels: organising abductions and possibly murders of well-known people in Belarus. In this connection we have information that in the near future Belarusian authorities would try to find “scapegoats”. They may even find “actual perpetrators of the crime”. They should close this question. They should close it with little problems, so that the people who organised and were giving ordered would not find themselves in the dock. Lukashenka wants to become white, clean and fluffy by the presidential campaign”.
As it was reported on August 14, journalists of NTV, a Russian TV channel were deported from Belarus. Aleksey Malkov and Yury Babenko, members of an NTV film crew which was shooting a film about the disappeared politicians, were detained on August 14 in the hotel of the International Education Center (IBB) where they had stayed. On August 15 at night, the film crew was taken to a Minsk airport and made to leave Belarus. The detained journalists were accused of acting without accreditation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus.
In an interview to www.charter97.org website the wife of the former Vice Speaker of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus, Zinaida Hanchar, called it “a strange incident”.
“NTV journalist called me and asked for a meeting,” she recalls. “I and Volha Zavadskaya came to a meeting with them. We told about the issues worrying us: about the problems of investigation, about reluctance of investigators to cooperate with us. I can say that journalists were thoroughly enlightened upon the subject. The fact of expulsion of Russian journalists seems awful to me. I do not have a good knowledge of accreditation procedure, but the fact that journalists of a “union state” are deported, seem strange”.
As we have informed, the requirement to disclose the truth about disappearance of the leaders of Belarusian opposition is contained in the resolution of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the PACE and the OSCE.
A number of Belarusian high-ranking officials, in particular minister of internal affaires Uladzimir Navumau, head of the president’s administration Viktar Sheiman, former minister of internal affaires Yury Sivakou, and former commander of special task squad Dzmitry Paulichenka are banned from entry into the EU countries and the US, because they are suspected of involvement in kidnapping of the oppositionists.