The chief of an NGO that provided aid to people fleeing Belarus has been dead (hanged) in Ukraine’s Kyiv. The body of the Belarusian activist was discovered in Kyiv a day after he was reported missing, Ukrainian police said.
His friends said he had been followed by “strangers.” He was today found hanged in one of the Kyiv parks, not far from where he lived,” police said in a statement.
A murder probe has been opened, authorities said, adding that they would pursue all leads including a possible “murder disguised as a suicide.”
The deceased whose name is Vitaly Shishov, is a Belarusian citizen who heads the Kyiv-based Belarusian House in Ukraine (BDU), an organization that helps Belarusians trying to flee persecution. The organization helps them find accommodation, employment, and legal services.
Ukraine, like Poland and Lithuania, has become a haven for Belarusians, following a crackdown on dissent in their home country by President Alexander Lukashenko.
Shishov was followed by ‘strangers’
Police said the activist was reported missing by his partner when he did not return from his morning run. Shishov’s friends said he had been followed by “strangers” recently while jogging.
The Belarusian House in Ukraine released a statement saying he was under surveillance, and “both local sources and our people in Belarus” have alerted the group to the possibility of “various provocations, including kidnapping and liquidation.”
“There is no doubt that this was a planned operation by security operatives to liquidate a Belarusian dangerous for the regime. We will continue to fight for the truth about Vitaly’s death,” the group said.
They added that Shishov was forced to move to Ukraine in the fall of 2020, after anti-government protests led to a crackdown on dissent in Belarus.
Yury Shchuchko from the Belarusian House in Ukraine told the AP news agency that Shishov was found with marks of beating on his face.
He said Shishov felt he was being watched during his runs, adding that strangers would approach him and try to start a conversation.
“Vitaly asked me to take care of his loved ones, he had a weird feeling,” Shchuchko said.
Police are still investigating his death and possible arrest will be done soon.