Vitaly Shishov, head of Belarusian exile group, found dead in Ukrainian capital

A Belarusian dissident who helped his countrymen flee persecution was found dead in a park on Tuesday in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, where police have launched a murder investigation. Vitaly Shishov, the head of the Kiev-based Belarusian House in Ukraine (BDU) organization, was reported missing by his partner on Monday after going for a run, police said. By Tuesday morning, the activist was found hanged in a forested area of a park near his Kiev home.

Ukrainian police opened a criminal case and said they would investigate whether Shishov's death was a suicide or "premeditative murder meant to look like suicide." The BDU helps fleeing and exiled Belarusians find accommodation, jobs and legal advice in Ukraine. In a statement on Tuesday, the BDU said Shishov had been "under surveillance" and that they had received warnings about possible threats prior to his death.

Belarus has been in political and social turmoil since last year, when a disputed election led to mass protests, then a violent crackdown by President Alexander Lukashenko that was condemned by the international community and sparked an exodus of dissidents from the country.

 

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