Lukashenka’s strong rival abducted 19 years ago. Still no answer

Yury Zakharanka, a former Interior Minister of Belarus, disappeared on May 7, 1999. He was kidnapped by unidentified individuals. His whereabouts is still unknown.

Although the criminal case was filed, it has never been cleared. According to Belarusian civil activists, it is the so-called death squads, an organisation persecuting and killing dissidents, that are to blame for the sudden disappearance of the politician.

Yury Zakharanka was a member of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s team during the 1994 presidential elections. After Lukashenka’s victory he was appointed Interior Minister. In October 1995, the Belarusian leader fired Zakharanka, later reduced him to a lower rank and and even dismissed from the Interior Ministry for alleged gross financial irregularities and blunders in work.

During his speech to the Supreme Soviet of the XIIIth convocation, Yury Zakharanka warned the head of Belarus that only corrupted officials were among his cronies, aides and associates. He also hinted at Lukashenka’s being involved in corruption schemes himself:

General Zakharanka who was 47 when he went missing tops the list of disappeared politicians in Belarus. After leaving the position of Interior Minister Mr Zakharanka joined the opposition. He had authority with servicemen and initiated establishing of the independent Union of Officers which could have stood up against the president.

Aleh Alkayeu, a former head of Minsk predetention centre No 1, carried out his private investigation of the Belarusian politicians’ enforced disappearance. Mr Alkayeu is sure that former Minister of Interior Yury Zakharanka was assassinated by order of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s minions, and videorecordings of the execution do exist.

Belsat TV documentary Gang about kidnapped politicians and death squads in Belarus