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Vitali Shishov Death: Belarusian opponent who had disappeared in Ukraine found hanged

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The leader of the humanitarian organization Casa de Bielorrusia in Ukraine, Vitali Shishov, who had been missing since yesterday, was found hanged in a park in Kiev , the Police of the Ukrainian capital reported today.

“The police have initiated a criminal case according to article 115 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (premeditated murder) and will verify all possible versions, including murder presented as suicide,” says a statement posted on the website of the National Police of Ukraine.

“The Belarusian citizen Vitali Shishov, who disappeared yesterday in Kiev, was found hanged today in one of the parks in Kiev, near the place where he resided,” said the Ukrainian Police in a statement released on Tuesday.

According to one of the versions under investigation, it could be a “death disguised as suicide,” the police added.

Shishov, 26, headed the Belarusian House in Ukraine, an NGO that helps his compatriots flee the repression of Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

His NGO on Tuesday denounced a “planned operation” by the regime of dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

“There is no doubt that this is an operation planned by the Chekists (term to designate the Belarusian security forces, ndlr) to liquidate a Belarusian who represented a real danger to the regime,” the organization said in its account Telegram.

The activist went for a run in Kiev on Monday morning, but did not return and stopped answering his cell phone.

Shishov’s friends said that he had been followed by “strangers” while jogging.

“Vitali was under surveillance and the (Ukrainian) police had been informed of it. We had been warned on several occasions both by local sources and by people in Belarus of (the possibility of) all kinds of provocations that could go up to kidnapping and liquidation, ” the NGO continued.

“We traced the entire forest where he used to run, but we found no trace of Vitali,” they said in an entry on the Telegram channel of the BDU, an organization that provides assistance to Belarusians who have fled their country.

Police said Shishov, 26, had his mobile phone and other personal effects with him. The activist had commented a few days ago to his colleagues that he felt that he was being watched and that strangers had tried to start a conversation with him.

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has been cracking down on any form of dissent since mass protests erupted after last year’s elections, deemed illegitimate by several Western countries.

According to “Belarusian House”, Shishov was forced to leave for Ukraine in the autumn of 2020 after taking part in anti-government demonstrations in Gomel, southern Belarus in August, and having “actively opposed” the authorities.

Many Belarusians have been forced to flee the country, often to neighboring Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania.

Shishov’s death came when Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said over the weekend that she was forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics over forced repatriation threats for criticizing her athletics federation .

The sprinter, who was granted a humanitarian visa by Poland on Monday, said she feared being jailed if she returned to her country.

Her husband, Arseny Zdanevich, told AFP on Monday that he had fled Belarus to Ukraine and hoped to meet his wife “in the near future.”

Lukashenko sparked international outrage in May by sending a fighter jet to intercept a Ryanair plane flying from Greece to Lithuania to arrest a dissident on board.

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