25 February 2020, Tuesday, 18:21
The Wait Is Nearly Over

Belarusian Investigation Committee Extends Investigation Into Disappearance Of MIA Ex-Minister Yury Zakharanka

Belarusian Investigation Committee Extends Investigation Into Disappearance Of MIA Ex-Minister Yury Zakharanka

The decision was made after the confession of the former SOBR special police unit fighter Harauski.

Investigation Committee (IC) of Belarus extended the preliminary investigation into the disappearance of former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka until February 18, 2020. On Wednesday, January 22, Belarusian human rights activist Aleh Volchak received a report about it to notify Zakharanka's family, Deutsche Welle informs.

This is the second IC report on the unclosed criminal case of disappearance of police general Zakharanka 20 years ago this year. The first one informed that the investigation had been resumed since December 18, 2019.

Lukashenka instructed to reopen the investigation after Yury Harauski, a former SOBR special police unit fighter, stated in Deutsche Welle publications on December 16 that he had participated in abducting and killing former Interior Minister Zakharanka. In an interview with the radio station "Echo of Moscow," Lukashenka said: "I immediately gave the order, when the press service reported it to me". At the same time, he called the interview with Harauski an "information attack".

Former employee of Minsk prosecutor's office Aleh Volchak, who's been engaged in an independent investigation into the disappearance of the former head of the Interior Ministry from the first day, told Deutsche Welle that such notifications of the IC for Zakharanka's family had come repeatedly many years in a row. "The investigation determines the procedure, methods and timing of the investigation, and can extend or suspend it, as it has been done many times before," - Volchak said. However, now, he said, "authorities will consider it depending on circumstances - how the society reacts to information about the investigation of abductions and how the political situation develops."

Yury Zakharanka disappeared on May 7, 1999. On September 16, 1999, head of the Central Election Commission of Belarus Viktar Hanchar and businessman Anatol Krasouski, who supported the opposition, disappeared as well. On July 7, 2000, Dzmitry Zavadski, an ORT operator, was abducted in Minsk. The investigation of the cases was repeatedly suspended, but after the Deutsche Welle publication the IC resumed the investigation of the criminal case on disappearance of Zakharanka, Hanchar and Krasouski.

However, the Investigative Committee of Belarus found no grounds for questioning new witnesses and on January 6, it refused Sviatlana Zavadskaya to resume the investigation into the whereabouts of her husband. The IC referred to the fact that "the persons who carried out the abduction (of Dzmitry Zavadski - Ed.), have been identified and convicted for this crime by the verdict of Minsk regional court of 14.03.2002". "I was given an answer regarding another, already closed case on abduction, but the further fate of my husband is still not clarified," - Sviatlana Zavadskaya said to Deutsche Welle. She intends to appeal the IC's response with higher authorities.