Updated at 13:33,29-11-2021

Pahanyaila: Cases of kidnapped opposition members to be closed


Pahanyaila says the cases of the disappeared people may be closed due to expiration of the statute of limitation. "The statute of limitation (15 years) expires in six months. I think this period of limitation will be used," the human rights activist thinks.

The authorities are going to stop even a formal investigation into the disappearance of opposition members. This statement was made by lawyer and human rights activist Harry Pahanyaila at a round table discussion in Minsk on December 10.

Acting chairman of the Belarusian Supreme Council Viktar Zakharanka, businessman Anatol Krasouski and former interior minister Yury Zakharanka disappeared in 1999. Journalist Dzmitry Zavadski disappeared in summer 2000. Later, documents including a report by deputy interior minister Mikalai Lapatik were published. According to them, the opposition politicians and public figures were killed by the so called death squad on the order of the highest officials. Yury Sivakou was mentioned among the persons involved in the kidnappings and killings. He, like a number of other Belarusian officials, was later banned from entering the EU.

Pahanyaila noted that Belarusian human rights defenders should try their best to make the authorities "do what they must do". "We need to launch a wide civil campaign that will make the authorities to instigate these cases in accordance with the version that they haven't considered before – disappearance on political motives," the lawyer said.

He says "as for the investigative procedures, the cases were investigated". "They just need to formalise the evidence they already collected. The evidence should be put into a criminal case and it [the case] will be almost ready for submitting to a court," BelaPAN news agency quotes Pahanyaila.

He however doesn't hope the trial will begin "while these authorities rule". "I am convinced that the people involved in the disappearances still occupy highest post in the government," the human rights activists said.