Abducted journalist’s widow: ‘Truth may triumph only after regime change’

13 years have passed since Belarusian cameraman Zmitser Zavadski disappeared.

On the morning of July 7, 2013 the journalist of Russian Public Television (now – Channel 1) was heading for the National Airport Minsk to meet his colleague Pavel Sheremet. Nobody has seen Zmitser since then. His car was found in the airport.

In 2006 the case over Zavadski’s disappearance was suspended, his widow Sviatlana Zavadskaya told Belsat TV. In 2002 two former special forces agents, Valery Ihnatovich and Maxim Malik, who allegedly avenged themselves on the cameraman for bringing accusations of cooperation with Chechen militants against them. But Zmitser’s destiny is still unknown. “They have been behind bars for many years; if they had really kidnapped Zmitser we would already have learned from them what was done to him. But it is likely that nobody cares about it, or these people bear no relation to the abduction,” she added.

Sviatlana Zavadskaya stressed that a lot of people contacted her and offered help. For example, a former worker of internal forces base No 3214. He had access to its records, and the documents said that Zavadski’s body was buried under a grave at the Nothern cemetery in Minsk.

“According to the man, even the number of the grave was mentioned there. They had a set of documents – Zavadski’s case, and it included information on the time of his abduction. The case states that 5 men were engaged in it, and they were named. It is them who questioned and tortured Zmitser. The time of his death was also denoted: the man said they killed him on the following day,” the widow said.

But the former death squad member on the run failed to recollect the number of the grave. Journalist Pavel Sheremet had a similar version: in his opinion, nobody woud look for bodies of the kidnapped at cemeteries.

“When I shared the information with Pavel, he said that even if I had the number I would never know anithing because all the remains were taken to a crematorium,” she said. According to Sheremet’s investigation, in July, 2000 something was being evacuated from the Nothern cemetery to the crematoriun in a rush.

It is curious that both directors of the Northern cemetery and the crematorium died. “They were rather young. He [Sheremet] said that they might well have died by violence,” Sviatlana Zavadskaya said. She is sure that th body of Zmither was destroyed. In her view, conduct of ex-Minister of Interior Uladzimir Navumau and ‘grey cardinal’ Viktar Sheyman just prove the fact. The both have not decided upon any common course of actions and they are not nervous because there is no proof any more.

The woman believes that the truth will be discovered only after regime change. “If new authorities have political will to find criminals they will do it very soon,” she added.



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