BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Belarus death squad reports 'credible'
Alexander Lukashenko
President Lukashenko faces elections in September
By BBC Eurasia analyst Steven Eke

The US State Department has said it considers as credible allegations that the Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko or his close entourage are involved in the disappearance of up to 30 opposition figures.


President Lukashenko has always dismissed the allegations of his opponents, but he will find the US State Department harder to shrug off

The information has been provided by two Belarussian investigators who have been granted political asylum in the US after fleeing Belarus.

At the same time, new evidence linking the Belarussian authorities to political murders has appeared in Belarus itself.

The high-profile disappearances include some of President Lukashenko's key opponents: Yuri Zakharenko, the former Interior Minister; Viktor Gonchar, the former Chairman of Belarus's Central Electoral Commission; and Dmitri Zavadksi, who once worked as President Lukashenko's personal cameraman.

The investigators revealed that during their enquiries, they uncovered information that linked Belarus's senior leadership to the operations of an elite armed group working within the country's interior ministry.

Going public

The two investigators decided to make their discoveries public after another investigator working on the disappearances and a witness died in suspicious circumstances.

Tensions surrounding the accusations have now been raised still further with the appearance in the Belarussian capital, Minsk, of photocopied documents appearing to show that President Lukashenko himself ordered the creation of a special rapid-reaction unit for eliminating his opponents.

The Belarussian authorities have categorically denied being involved in the disappearances, and the interior minister described the documents as a "filthy provocative act".

President Lukashenko has always dismissed the allegations of his opponents, but he will find the US State Department harder to shrug off.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

07 Jun 01 | Europe
The disappeared of Belarus
16 Oct 00 | Europe
Belarus vote condemned
19 Jun 98 | Europe
Alexander Lukashenko: a profile
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories