Wife of missing cameraman calls for independent investigation

New York, July 27–The wife of missing Belarusian cameraman Dmitri Zavadsky called on the United States and the international community to establish an independent commission to investigate her husband’s disappearance and other politically motivated deaths and disappearances in Belarus.

Svetlana Zavadskaya visited Washington, D.C., for four days in mid-July with a small delegation that included three other Belarusian women–Lyudmila Karpenko, Irina Krasovskaya, and Tatyana Klimova–whose husbands have also been the victims of political repression.

Zavadskaya claimed that despite widespread intimidation of local journalists, Belarusians are increasingly relying on the independent press for information during the runup to the September 9 presidential elections. “A year ago buying independent newspapers was no problem. Now, if you come to the kiosk too late, you won’t be able to buy [them]. Maybe this is due to the upcoming election,” she said. “People want to know the truth, to learn about other candidates.”

Dmitri Zavadsky was a cameraman with the Russian public television network ORT. He disappeared on July 7, 2000, when he failed to keep a scheduled appointment with his longtime friend and colleague Pavel Sheremet at Minsk Airport. Since then, there have been numerous allegations that the government of President Aleksandr Lukashenko was involved in Zavadsky’s abduction and presumed murder. (Click here for more information.)