10th anniversary of disappearance of journalist Dzmitry Zavadski
10 years ago, on 7 July 2000, the Belarusian TV cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski went missing. In the morning he drove to the National airport Minsk to meet his colleague, journalist Pavel Sharamet, and has never been seen ever since. His car was found in the airport.
In 2002, the Minsk region court found Valery Ihnatovich, a former member of Almaz, a special mission unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and his accomplices guilty of having kidnapped Mr. Zavadski. Two of them, including Ihnatovich, got life sentences.
In March 2004, the national procuracy suspended the investigation of the abduction because of the 'failure to locate the missing person'. In 2005 the investigation was resumed and in 2006 – suspended once again.
'We have repeatedly demanded the reopening of the criminal case, because Ihatovich's gang was charged only with the abduction of Zavadski,' says lawyer and human rights defender Hary Pahaniaila. 'However, they weren't accused of his murder. Zavadski has been confessed dead, that's why somebody must bear responsibility for his death. However, there is still no such person, while all our applications remain unanswered.' In June 2008, Prosecutor General Ryhor Vasilevich stated that the celebrated cases of disappearances were controlled by the procuracy. Being asked about the progress of the investigation into the abductions of Dzmitry Zavadski, businessman Anatol Krasouski, politician Viktar Hanchar and ex-Minister of Interior Yury Zakharanka, the prosecutor said: 'The search of the missing persons is one of the most important issues for us. We have considered it at inter-agency commission. However, I'd like to point that more than 48,000 people went missing during the last five or seven years. 99% of them eventually returned on their own. However, this question is doubtlessly in the procuracy's eyeshot.'
In an interview with the Russian newspaper Zavtra (№ 24 (812), 10 June 2009), Aliaksandr Lukashenka told his own version of Zavadski's disappearance: ' There was a paramilitary group in Belarus led by Ihnatovich. They were well-trained guys from the USSR special-mission units. They went to Chechnya during the war and fought on the Russian side. Then they returned home. Sharamet (ORT reporter, colleague and friend of Dzmitry Zavadski - Ed. Note) and Zavadski came to them to shoot a story for the Russian TV. The story told that these Belarusian citizens had fought on the side of Chechen separatists against the federal troops. Sharamet had a narrow escape, whereas Zavadski was caught. They started with a men's showdown: 'Why have you slandered us?' And they killed Zavadski. Ihnatovich got a life sentence and is kept in one of our penal colonies.' The cameraman was murdered, and this provocateur Sharamet lives in Moscow and writes dirty things about Belarus.’