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'Have You Seen This Person?'

Rogue Valley

Ruscism = Russian fascism
DP Veteran
Apr 18, 2013
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'Have You Seen This Person?': Activists In Belarus Say Dozens Unaccounted For Amid Political Crisis


On August 15, local election official Kanstantsin Shyshmakou was back at the military history museum in the medieval southwestern Belarusian city of Vaukavysk for what would be his last day at work. At 5 p.m., he called his wife, telling her, "I cannot work here anymore; I am going home." He never made it. His phone was unreachable, and his family reported him missing. It was the last time anyone would see him alive. Shyshmakou had joined scores of Belarusian citizens who activists say have disappeared since the beginning of the protests and the brutal police crackdown against them. According to human rights organizations, the fates of many remain unknown more than a week after the election, feeding fears that the authorities are deliberately covering up severe injuries, or worse, carried out by the security forces. Online search services have been organized to help families locate their missing loved ones. One of them, launched by the popular media outlet Tut.by with the title Have You Seen This Person?, enables people to post images and information about the missing and the circumstances of their disappearance so readers can contribute tips or join in the search.

Minsk resident Katsyaryna Savitskaya spoke with RFE/RL's Belarus Service about her experiences trying to determine the whereabouts of her husband, Yury Savitski. On election night, Savitski participated in demonstrations against alleged vote fraud. The next night, on August 10, his wife says he was abducted by six people in civilian clothing, pushed into a minibus, and driven away. Savitskaya and the couple's 4-year-old child were left at home with no idea what had happened to him for the next four days. With no mention of her husband's name on any of the official lists of those detained -- she says she was told by authorities in Minsk there "are too many prisoners; we don't have time to register them" -- she took things into her own hands. Armed with a photograph of her husband and a tip that he was being held at the Zhodzina prison outside the capital, she set out looking for someone who might have seen him. A man took a close look at the photo and confirmed that Savitskaya's husband was indeed inside awaiting criminal charges for "organizing mass riots." "That's how I learned that my husband was a suspect in a criminal case...[and was] facing a prison term of five to 15 years,” she told RFE/RL. The initial interrogation was conducted without the right to a lawyer or to contact relatives.

Democracy -- Lukashenka style.
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