SARFAN Community, the tragic murder of Vitaly Shishov is an example of Belarus’ continued crackdown of any opposition they feel threatened by, and their violence extends past our national boundaries proving that nobody is safe against these murders. To understand the significance of this murder, we should dive into the background of this crisis for those unfamiliar.
As we all know the situation in Belarus is chaotic. Lukashenko has been in power for 27 years and is mocked as Europe’s last dictator. Similar to the situation in Ukraine, Belarus has been used by Russia to fuel their conquest and political machinations against the rest of Europe, except their relationship with Russia is stronger and less contentious than the situation Ukraine has been subjected to due to their open opposition of Russia’s aggressive actions towards them. After the rigged elections that had Lukashenko winning by a landslide, there was a huge opposition movement that arose to contest those results which led to a huge crackdown by the Lukashenko regime and brutal subjugation of opponents through violent means and massive detentions of protestors. This crackdown continues to this day, with Lukashenko’s thugs continuing to jail students and censoring any media that shines a light on their actions. Lukashenko’s opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaya claimed victory in the election after her husband who was running was detained, and so she was forced to flee and live in exile, where she brings attention to the situation in Belarus.
With this background, we bring you to the tragic murder of Vitaly Shishov. Vitaly led the Belarusian House in Ukraine, and NGO dedicated to helping people who fled Belarus as Lukashenko enforced harsher crackdowns against his opposition. Vitaly himself was a Belarusian who fled from the regime looking for safety and he ended up in Ukraine. On August 2nd he was found missing and then his body was found hanged the following day. Police investigating the matter considered it a murder made to look like a suicide. Before his tragic murder, his NGO had been warned by Ukrainian security officers that a network of Belarusian KGB were active in the area and seeking out any opposition who had fled Belarus, resorting to kidnappings and assassinations. Vitaly was aware of this and still continued the good work he was doing helping political exiles and ensuring his fellow Belarusians were safe. For all his efforts he was murdered and hanged.
SARFAN Community, its actions like this that we can not stand idly by and do nothing about. Lukashenko like Putin, continues to violate the rights of others to oppress them and punish them, no matter where they flee. This tragedy is not just a lesson, it’s a reminder of how these murderous criminals will go to great lengths to silence their opponents. We must continue supporting the various causes they have died for, and ensure that the international community recognizes these heroes and the sacrifices they have made. Because this effort is fraught with danger as we have seen, as always I implore you all to be safe and cautious.