Belarus activist found dead in Ukraine park

3 August 2021, 08:28 | Updated: 3 August 2021, 08:38

Belarusian opposition has been active in Ukraine
Belarusian opposition has been active in Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A Belarusian activist has been found dead in Ukraine in a possible case of murder disguised as suicide.

Vitaly Shishov, who ran a group that helps Belarusians escape persecution in Kiev, was found dead in a park on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

It comes as his home country comes under increased scrutiny for its response to dissidence.

"Belarusian citizen Vitaly Shishov, who disappeared yesterday in Kiev, was found hanged today in one of Kiev's parks, not far from his place of residence," a Ukrainian police statement said.

A suspected murder case has been opened and detectives have not ruled out the possibility of the death being a murder disguised as a suicide, Reuters said.

It comes as a Belarusian athlete, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, was offered a Polish humanitarian visa when she refused to be sent home by her team at the Tokyo Olympics.

Read more: Belarus is like North Korea in Europe, opposition figure tells LBC

The 24-year-old said there was an attempt to take her out of the country "without my consent", after complaining about the national coach.

Belarus said she was removed from the team because of her "emotional and psychological state".

The country's leader Alexander Lukashenko has been under intense scrutiny after a Belarusian journalist was taken from a Ryanair flight when Minsk told it to land while it flew over the Eastern European country.

Read more: Roman Protasevich: Arrested Belarusian journalist appears in 'confession' video

Roman Protasevich was flying from Greece to Lithuania when the aeroplane was ordered to land, which Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary described as a "state-sponsored hijacking".

Reuters reports that Belarus, which heavily cracked down on protests last year, has tried to characterise the opposition as violent revolutionaries supported by Western countries or criminals.