Belarus activist found dead in a park in Kiev – Ukrainian police.

A Belarusian activist was found dead in a park near his home in Kiev early on Tuesday, a day after he was reported missing, Ukrainian police have said.

Vitaly Shishov, who led a Kiev-based organisation that helps Belarusians fleeing persecution, had been reported missing by his partner on Monday after not returning home from a run.

Police said they had launched a criminal case for suspected murder but would investigate all possibilities including murder disguised as suicide.

“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,” the police statement said.

Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania have become havens for Belarusians during a crackdown by president Alexander Lukashenko following a disputed election last year.

Mr Shishov led the Belarusian House in Ukraine (BDU) group, which helps Belarusians find accommodation, jobs and legal advice, according to its website.

The organisation said on Monday it was not able to contact Mr Shishov. It said Mr Shishov had left his residence at 9am (7am Irish time) and was supposed to have returned an hour later.

The Belarusian authorities have characterised anti-government protesters as criminals or violent revolutionaries backed by the West, and described the actions of law enforcement agencies as adequate and necessary. – Reuters

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