Updated at 23:19,25-10-2016

Relatives demand international inquiry into disappearance of Lukashenkas four opponents

18-08-2009, 10:56

The families of Alyaksandr Lukashenkas four opponents who went missing about a decade ago demand an international investigation into their disappearance and possible murder.

Many believe that former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka, former Central Election Commission Chairman Viktar Hanchar and his friend, businessman Anatol Krasowski, as well as journalist Dzmitry Zavadski were kidnapped and murdered by a government-run death squad.

"Belarusian government officials have spoken in different periods about either a Russian or a German trail [in the disappearances] or the business nature of the crimes. But it has long been clear that this is just an attempt to distract attention from the true reasons for the abductions of the well-known figures in Belarus," said a statement issued by the families of the missing people.

The petition was sent to Prosecutor General Ryhor Vasilevich, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and the leaders of Germany, Russia, Sweden and the United States on August 17, Mr. Hanchars wife, Zinaida, and Mr. Zavadskis mother, Volha, told reporters in Minsk on Monday.

"We have to ask you to use all means of influence on the Belarusian authorities at your disposal to ensure that they fulfill their obligations to citizens of their country and the international obligations taken by the Republic of Belarus to conduct a comprehensive and impartial investigation into the disappearances of our relatives," the petition said and called for an international inquiry if the Belarusian authorities failed to do so.

The petition also urged the prosecutor general to speak in public about the results of the years-long investigations. "If Belarusian law enforcement agencies are unable to solve these crimes, we are ready to help involve experts from other countries in the inquiry," the petition said.

General Zakharanka went missing on May 7, 1999, while Messrs. Hanchar and Krasowski on September 16, 1999. Mr. Zavadski disappeared on July 7, 2000.