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Disappearance of Belarusian journalist remains a mystery 15 years on

Belarusian Association of Journalists

This statement was originally published on baj.by on 7 July 2015.

Today [7 July 2015] marks 15 years since the tragic day when our colleague, Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) member Dmitry Zavadski, disappeared under unclear circumstances.

For all these years, law enforcement agencies have not found answers to the questions: who was mastermind and implementer of the crime, what really happened to Dzmitry, and where to find his traces?

Relatives, close friends and other citizens remain unaware of what has happened to him, as well as to other journalists who died in mysterious circumstances.

The criminal investigation into the abduction of Dzmitry Zavadski has been repeatedly suspended, and with zero results.

The public association, Belarusian Association of Journalists, demands that competent law enforcement agencies hold a full investigation into all circumstances of the journalist's disappearance.

We call on representatives of civil society to keep an eye on the case of Dzmitry Zavadski, until the authorities reveal the whole truth about this crime and until the names of the perpetrators are revealed.

Adopted by the Board of BAJ

In 2002, four men were convicted for the abduction of the journalist. Two officers of a special forces squad were sentenced to life imprisonment; two other citizens were sentenced to 25 years in prison for one and 12 years for the other. The official version of the motive for the abduction was that the journalist had publicly accused officer Ignatovich of fighting on the side of Chechen militants.

According to the earlier version of the Criminal Code, 15 years is the term for a criminal case to expire. It is to be barred by the statute of limitations, unless the investigating bodies decide to prolong the case and keep investigating.

The journalist's mother – Volha Ryhorauna Zavadskaya – is skeptical about any success of the investigation; she is sure that nothing is being investigated. But, she bears hope that sooner or later, the truth will come to the surface.

The lawyer, Harry Pahaniyayla, chair of the legal commission of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and a friend of the family, says that investigation should keep going. Formally, it should continue until we find out what became of the journalist. In his view, relatives and lawyers are already familiar with the case materials, as they were presented at the court hearings.

Two months ago, the movie "Banda" was presented about abducted Belarusian politicians as well as about the journalist, Zavadski.

Who Is Dzmitry Zavadsky?

Dmitry Zavadsky was born on August 28, 1972.

From 1994 up to 1997 – a personal cameraman of Aliaksandr Lukashenka.

From January 1997 – an operator of Public Russian Television (ORT).

In the spring of 1997 he was arrested, together with another journalist of ORT Pavel Sheremet, for a report about transparency of the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, and got a year and a half of suspended sentence.

From October of 1999 until May of 2000 he was working in Chechnya, where together with Pavel Shereme,t was shooting a film Chechnya's Diary.

On July 7, 2000 he disappeared in obscure circumstances at “Minsk-2” airport .

Find out more details about the case here.

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