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Head of Belarus exiles group found dead in Ukraine

Vitaly Shishov, the head of a group helping people who have fled to Belarus, has been found dead near his home in Ukraine. His body was found hanged in a park in Kyiv, just one day after he failed to return home after leaving to go on a run. Police have opened a murder inquiry into the young activist’s death. Police reported that they are seeking to determine whether he had been killed and his death had been made to look like a suicide. Shishov led the Belarusian House in Ukraine, a group helping people who have fled Belarus due to political oppression. In the country, opposition to the government is stifled and sometimes met with violence or threats. Meanwhile, a Belarusian Olympic sprinter who feared for her safety after the Olympics has been granted a humanitarian visa by Poland.

Shishov is one of many Belarusians who fled the country after security forces violently suppressed protests following the election of President Alexander Lukashenko in August 2020. The United Nations addressed Shishov’s death, stating that the suspected killing adds another level to worries over the political climate and oppression in Belarus. The UN called for an investigation into the incident. Shishov’s death also marks a resurge in international scrutiny of President Lukashenko’s authoritarian government.

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