Death squads involved? 19 years since abduction of journalist Dzmitry Zavadski


On 7 July, 2000, 27-year-old Belarusian citizen Dzmitry Zavadski, who worked as a personal cameraman of Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 1994-1997, disappeared without a trace. His car was found in Minsk airport.

Zavadski’s colleague and friend Pavel Sheremet believed that his work in Chechnya in 1999-2000, during the filming of The Chechen Diary might have become the reason for his being abducted and killed. In his opinion, the cameraman might have got information about the Belarusian special forces’ activity in Chechnya.

The journalist was kidnapped by a group of armed people, including former employees of the Interior Ministry Special Forces Unit Almaz, Valer Ihnatovich and Maxim Malik, the official version reads. Later, the two men were sentenced to life imprisonment.

However, the body of Dzmitry has never been found. A number of Belarusian journalists and politicians claim that only doers who were tried and sentenced; it was Lukashenka-controlled death squads who kidnapped and murdered cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski, businessman Anatol Krasouski, politicians Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar.

According to independent human rights defenders, the main suspects in these cases are president Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Viktar Sheyman (a former chairman of the Security Council), Uladzimir Naumau and Yury Sivakou (former Interior Minister), Dzmitry Paulichenka (an ex-commander of Special Rapid Deployment Force) and Mikalai Vasilchanka (then head of the Presidential Security Service). PACE representative Christos Pourgourides who conducted his own investigation accepted their conclusions in his special report.

‘Death squads’ in Belarus: facts from history


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