General Yury Zakharanka kidnapped 10 years ago

Today, on the anniversary of disappearance of the former interior minister of Belarus and an opposition leader, a rally of memory will be organized on October square of Minsk at 6.00 p.m.

General Yury Zakharanka disappeared on May 7, 1999. Witnesses of the kidnapping, found not by investigative agencies but by a public commission on search for the missing general, say Zakharanka was forcefully taken away by some men.

Some years before the incident, Zakharanka was resigned for he didn’t share the opinion of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his inner circle. The former interior minister was highly esteemed among his colleagues, he was crating the Union of Officers. Is opposition activity constituted a danger to the authorities.

Many people in Belarus and abroad think he was kidnapped on political motives and probably killed. The Belarusian authorities say the investigation is not closed and reasons of Zakharanka’s kidnapping as well as his destiny are unknown.

The procuracy of Minsk extended till June 24 the investigation in the case of disappearance of former interior minister Yury Zakharanka.

“Terms of investigation have been extended till June 24, 2009,” human rights activist Aleh Vouchak told in an interview to the Charter’97 press center. “This is a standard three-sentence notice, another formal reply. I have 15 such notices. The procuracy just want to account to the Commission on Enforced Disappearances of the UN Commission on Human Rights. I can state there was no progress in the investigation. We still have no hopes for changes.”

The international community believes high-ranked Belarusian officials, in particular, minister of internal affaires Uladzimir Navumau, former Security Council secretary Viktar Sheiman, former interior minister Yury Sivakou and commander of special troops Dzmitry Paulichenka are involved in abductions of Yury Zakharanka and other leaders of Belarusian opposition.

The United Civil Party is going to hold on October square at 6.00 p.m. May 7 a “memory chain” dedicated to the tenth anniversary of disappearance of former interior minister of Belarus Yury Zakharanka.

“We are going to hold an action on October square in Minsk, because the case of disappearance of general Zakharanka is not investigated. The authorities do nothing to bring to responsibility the people guilty of disappearance of Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, Anatol Krasouski, and Zmitser Zavadski. We think a theme of political disappearances should be raised on an international level. In my view, some European politicians have stopped turning attention to this problem, though earlier it was one of the main points at negotiations with the authorities. But the case of Yury Zakharanka and the other disappeared people has no statute of limitation and doesn’t depend on political conditions. Nobody is forgotten, nothing is forgotten. If anyone thinks the case of Zakharanka and other kidnapped people is in archives, he is mistaken,” the politician told in an interview to the Charter’97 press center.

A rally demanding to release political prisoners also takes place on October square at 6.00 p.m. today. The rallies of solidarity with political prisoners had been held in Minsk for a week. One of the prisoners of conscience, Mikalai Autukhovich, has been on indefinite hunger strike for 21 days that poses a serious menace to his life.