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  • Fate of ORT Cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski Stays Unknown

    AUGUST 28, 1972 - JULY 7, 2000 (DISAPPEARED)

    Who Is Dzmit­ry Zavad­sky

    Dmit­ry Zavad­sky was born on August 28, 1972.

    From 1994 up to 1997 – a per­son­al cam­era man of A.H. Lukashen­ka.

    From Jan­u­ary 1997 – an oper­a­tor of Pub­lic Russ­ian Tele­vi­sion (ORT).

    In the spring of 1997 he was arrest­ed togeth­er with anoth­er jour­nal­ist of ORT Pavel Sheremet for the report about trans­paren­cy of Belaru­sian-Lithuan­ian bor­der, and got a year and a half of sus­pend­ed sen­tence.

    From Octo­ber of 1999 until May of 2000 he was work­ing in Chech­nya, where togeth­er with Pavel Sheremet was shoot­ing a film Chechnya’s Diary.

    On July 7, 2000 dis­ap­peared in obscure cir­cum­stances at the air­port “Minsk‑2”.

    Case Back­ground

    Start­ing from Octo­ber 24, 2001 four peo­ple (V.Ihnatovich, M.Malik, A.Huz and S.Savushkin) were on a closed tri­al for the abduc­tion of Dzmit­ry Zavad­sky. The bar­ris­ter who rep­re­sent­ed Zavadsky’s moth­er solicit­ed the judges to hold a pub­lic tri­al ses­sion, but it was reject­ed. All the inquiries of Zavad­sky’s fam­i­ly to receive the tes­ti­monies which had been sent by the bar­ris­ters of Zavad­sky’s fam­i­ly were turned down. On March 14, 2002 four per­sons were sen­tenced to long penal­ty terms for the abduc­tion of Dzmit­ry Zavad­sky (but not for the mur­der, as the body had not been found) among oth­er things, on the basis of the dig­ging tool with blood of Zavad­sky, which had been found in Ihnatovich’s car. Valery Igna­tovich and Max­im Malik were sen­tenced to life impris­on­ment; Ali­ax­ey Huz and Siarhey Savushkin were sen­tenced to 25 and 12 years in prison respec­tive­ly. It was report­ed that the con­victs kept plead­ing not guilty, call­ing the legal tri­al a farce. Accord­ing to the words of one of the bar­ris­ters of Zavad­sky’s fam­i­ly, for­mer Gen­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor Oleh Bozhelko was a wit­ness for pros­e­cu­tion at the tri­al, but he refused to give evi­dence refer­ring to the reg­u­la­tion of Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure Code which allowed the inves­ti­ga­tor to defend their sources of infor­ma­tion.

    The Sen­tence and the Inves­ti­ga­tion Details

    Upon the fact of dis­ap­pear­ance of Dmit­ry Zavad­s­ki, a crim­i­nal case was ini­ti­at­ed accord­ing to the Arti­cle “mur­der”, then the charge was changed for “abduc­tion with ille­gal depri­va­tion of free­dom of a per­son”. About a year had passed when this fact was announced to jour­nal­ists at a press-con­fer­ence in Office of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tor. At that time it was offi­cial­ly approved that the offi­cers of MVD (Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs) – spe­cial sub­di­vi­sion offi­cials for fight with ter­ror­ism “Almaz” (Dia­mond) had been involved in the affair. More­over, the name of the main fig­ure Valery Igna­tovich was announced; he and three mem­bers of the gang had already been in a deten­tion place of KGB. As for the motive of the abduc­tion of Dmit­ry Zavad­sky, accord­ing to the ver­sion of the inves­ti­ga­tion, it had become Dzmitry’s inter­view to “Belaruskaya Delo­vaya Gaze­ta” (Belaru­sian Busi­ness News­pa­per) about the for­mer spe­cial ser­vice offi­cials who waged the war at Chechnya’s side. Though the name of Igna­tovich was not men­tioned in the inter­view, the inves­ti­ga­tors were sure that it was exact­ly an “Almaz-mem­ber” who had tak­en revenge on the tele­vi­sion oper­a­tor. Belaru­sian inves­ti­ga­tors helped Russ­ian spe­cial ser­vice offi­cials to find traces of Igna­tovich: he was detained in the sum­mer of 2000 on the ter­ri­to­ry of Chech­nya. He acknowl­edged that by the order of high-ranked offi­cials of Belaru­sian Mil­i­tary Forces Depart­ment he had ful­filled a spe­cial task. After being set free he came back to Belarus, where he was arrest­ed and put to a KGB deten­tion facil­i­ty.

    “There is no anoth­er motive in the abduc­tion of Zavad­sky. Only the revenge. This is our strong con­vic­tion. We have checked var­i­ous ver­sions, but there is no anoth­er one,” – declared in an inter­view the head of the inves­ti­ga­tion group Ivan Branchel.

    On Octo­ber 24, 2001 the Region­al Court of Min­sk start­ed hear­ing of the case of abduc­tion of Dz.Zavadsky. The judge of the Region­al Court of Min­sk Alexan­der Simonov presided at the tri­al ses­sion.
    On Novem­ber 27, 2003 Frun­zen­s­ki Dis­trict Court of Min­sk made a deci­sion to acknowl­edge the dis­ap­peared jour­nal­ist to be a dead one.

    On Decem­ber 10, 2003 The Pros­e­cu­tor Body of The Repub­lic of Belarus resumed the inves­ti­ga­tion of the case of Zavadsky’s dis­ap­pear­ance. It is not incon­ceiv­able that the resump­tion of the case was con­nect­ed with a vis­it of Chris­tos Pourghourides, Spe­cial Rap­por­teur of The Par­lia­ment Assem­bly of Euro­pean Coun­cil, who wrote a report about dis­ap­peared peo­ple in Belarus and in Novem­ber-Decem­ber of 2003 vis­it­ed Belarus twice.

    March 31, 2004 The Pros­e­cu­tor Body of The Repub­lic of Belarus sus­pend­ed the inves­ti­ga­tion of the case of Dmit­ry Zavad­sky abduc­tion, appeal­ing to the “fail­ure to detect the van­ished per­son”.
    On April 9, 2004 Inter­na­tion­al organ­i­sa­tion Reporters With­out Bor­ders and The Pub­lic Union Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists made a com­mon dec­la­ra­tion, where expressed their con­cern about the sus­pen­sion of the case of Zavadsky’s abduc­tion.

    On July 20, 2004 Lukashen­ka at his press con­fer­ence said that he had mate­ri­als which might turn the case of Zavad­sky into “anti­case”. What did these words imply and why has not these doc­u­ments been announced yet – it is still a ques­tion.

    Lit­er­al­ly: (a short­hand report of the press-con­fer­ence of Ali­ak­san­dr Lukashen­ka of July 20, 2004):

    “And what sur­pris­ing is: so if the rel­a­tives wor­ry so much, so you may come to me. One per­son came, a woman – you under­stand the rea­son why I can’t men­tion her name. She came to me, I received her, she asked me about a man, again I don’t men­tion the name. I was impressed by this woman. A fine woman. I had spo­ken with her for three hours. I showed her some doc­u­ments. But if I pub­lish them, the case of Zavad­sky would turn into “anti­case”. This is, by the way, my only pain – Dzi­ma Zavad­sky. I would have much to offer just to get know what the fate of this man is.”
    Who was the woman that came to speak with Lukashen­ka – it is still a ques­tion as well. Nei­ther Dmitry’s spouse nor moth­er attend­ed the pres­i­dent. Per­haps, there was not any woman at all, was there?
    On August 4, 2004 moth­er of Dmit­ry Zavad­sky Olha Zavad­skaya appealed to the Prosecutor’s Office to resume the case because of new­ly emerged con­di­tions: Olha Hry­ho­rye­u­na claimed to make a prosecutor’s inves­ti­ga­tion of the infor­ma­tion announced by Lukashen­ka. How­ev­er the Pros­e­cu­tor Office expressed no reac­tion to the appeal.

    On Octo­ber 12, 2004 a judge of Cen­tral Min­sk Dis­trict S.V.Honchar refused to con­sid­er Zavadskaya’s com­plaint about actions of The Prosecutor’s Body of Belarus offi­cials because of “lack of juris­dic­tion” under the affair. Olha Zavad­skaya appealed to the court of high­er resort.

    On Novem­ber 25, 2004 pan­el of judges of City Court of Min­sk presided by judge Luhi­na turned down the appeal of the moth­er of the abduct­ed jour­nal­ist.

    On Decem­ber 10, 2004 Olha Zavad­skaya sent an appeal to the Gen­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor Petr Mik­la­she­vich con­cern­ing the rejec­tion of the Prosecutor’s Body to renew the inves­ti­ga­tion on the grounds of the new­ly emerged con­di­tions in the case of her son’s abduc­tion. On April 7, 2005 Olha Hry­ho­rye­u­na received a let­ter from the Prosecutor’s Body about “resump­tion of the pre­lim­i­nary inves­ti­ga­tion in view of neces­si­ty to real­ize inves­ti­ga­tion actions.”

    On May 4, 2005 “Nar­o­d­naya Volia” pub­lished an arti­cle “The corpse of Dmit­ry Zavad­sky may be found at one of the Belaru­sian ceme­ter­ies”. It was said in the arti­cle that  legal expert Har­ry Poho­ni­a­j­lo had sub­mit­ted a peti­tion for the Prosecutor’s Office with an appeal to car­ry out an exhuma­tion and to exam­ine a num­ber of corpses with the aim to con­firm or dis­ap­prove that one of the dead bod­ies was of Dmit­ry Zavad­sky.

    On June 23, 2005 at press-con­fer­ence at Prosecutor’s Office of The Repub­lic of Belarus Deputy Gen­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor Boris Ter­let­skij declared that there were some new mate­ri­als con­cern­ing the case of Zavadsky’s mur­der.

    On March 31, 2006 the case was sus­pend­ed again with the com­mon state­ment “because of fail­ure to find the van­ished per­son.”

    On May 30, 2006 at the press-con­fer­ence Gen­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor of Belarus Petr Mik­la­she­vich stat­ed: “At present the loca­tion of D.Zavadsky has not been ascer­tained, but Prosecutor’s Body con­tin­ues search of him. Recent­ly we have also ver­i­fied a num­ber of episodes of this affair, and they are ver­i­fied now. The loca­tion of D.Zavadsky has not been ascer­tained until now.”

    The demand of dis­clos­ing the truth about Dzmit­ry Zavadsky’s dis­ap­pear­ance has been per­sis­tent­ly includ­ed into res­o­lu­tions of the UN Human Rights Com­mis­sion and OSCE Par­lia­ment Assem­bly. Min­is­ter of Inter­nal Affairs Vladimir Nau­mov, head of pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tion Vik­tor Sheiman, for­mer MVD chief Yuri Sivakov and SOBR com­man­der Dmit­ry Pavlichenko are banned from enter­ing the U.S. and Euro­pean Union coun­tries for their like­ly involve­ment in Dmit­ry Zavadsky’s dis­ap­pear­ance.

    Opin­ions: Chris­tos Pour­gourides, Rap­por­teur of the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly of the Coun­cil of Europe, the Author of the Report “Dis­ap­peared in Belarus”

    “…This ver­dict was pre­sent­ed to me part­ly in details by Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs and Gen­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor as a par­tial solu­tion of Zavad­sky’s case. On indictment’s ver­sion the motive of the felony against Zavad­sky which had been com­mit­ted by Ihna­tovich and his gang was a revenge, as Zavad­sky blamed Ihna­tovich in pub­lic for wag­ing the war in Chech­nya at the rebels’ side.

    The major part of the inter­locu­tors from the fam­i­lies’ side stat­ed that the dis­ap­pear­ance of Zavad­sky was of the same line as the dis­ap­pear­ance of Zacharenko, Hon­char and Krasovskij, due to the rea­son that it had sim­i­lar polit­i­cal motive: to take revenge upon “trea­son” of the pres­i­dent for whom for­mer­ly Mr. Zavad­sky had worked as a pri­vate oper­a­tor before he start­ed work­ing as s jour­nal­ist of “hos­tile” mass media.

    To my mind, the used up pis­tol was not giv­en approx­i­mate­ly at the time Mr. Zavad­sky dis­ap­peared, it was pos­si­ble, in gen­er­al, that there was not a direct orga­ni­za­tion­al con­nec­tion between this affair and three oth­ers. It might have hap­pened that “Ihnatovich’s gang” killed Zavad­sky in order to set­tle his own scores with this jour­nal­ist, while the mem­bers of the gang or some of them by coin­ci­dence might have been involved in the so called series of exe­cu­tions in oth­er cas­es. Any­way, the state­ment which was made in advan­tage of the neces­si­ty of car­ry­ing out the close tri­al pro­ce­dure – oth­er­wise the wit­ness­es would have been afraid to give evi­dence, – in my opin­ion was beneath crit­i­cism: if the wit­ness­es had been afraid of the gang, the fact of hold­ing a close ses­sion would not have made any dif­fer­ence, as the par­tic­i­pants of the gang pre­sent­ed at the tri­al any­way.

    From the point of view of the grav­i­ty of the estab­lished facts at present and the earnest­ness of sus­pi­cion ensu­ing from all these facts against high ranked state offi­cials and even against pres­i­dent Lukashen­ka, per­son­al­ly I think, that a strong sig­nal should be sent to Belaru­sian regime. Besides of this mes­sage, which can be sent by The Coun­cil of Europe, sin­cere­ly I hope that the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty in a wide sense of this word, beyond the lim­its of our orga­ni­za­tion, join the pres­sure, which is nec­es­sary to ful­fill in order the jus­tice will pre­vail.”

    More infor­ma­tion find at http://ciwr.org/dmitrij-zavadskij/

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