Belarus Activist Vitaly Shishov's Death Investigated as Murder Disguised as Suicide

A missing Belarusian activist has been found dead in a Ukrainian park a day after he went missing, according to police.

Vitaly Shishov, who led an organization to help Belarusians fleeing from the Eastern European country, had been reported missing from his home in Kyiv after he did not return from a run on Monday.

Kyiv police have since launched a criminal case for suspected murder and said it would investigate the possibility of murder disguised as suicide, Reuters reports.

A police statement, released on Tuesday, said: "Belarusian citizen Vitaly Shishov, who disappeared yesterday in Kyiv, was found hanged today in one of Kyiv's parks, not far from his place of residence."

Shishov had led the Belarusian House in Ukraine group, which assists Belarusians to find jobs, legal advice and accommodation.

The group had announced on Monday it could not get in contact with Shishov and that he had left his home about 9 a.m. local time and was expected to return about an hour later.

Ukraine was one of the nations that some Belarusians fled to after they protested their country's disputed 2020 election.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in August last year and was met with widespread protests and condemnation from the international community over claims the vote was neither free nor fair.

His rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, does not acknowledge the results of the election due to alleged manipulation and claims she won the vote.

Tikhanovskaya met with U.S. President Joe Biden last week as she continues to build momentum against Lukashenko.

In a tweet shared on July 28, President Biden said: "I was honored to meet with @Tsihanouskaya at the White House this morning. The United States stands with the people of Belarus in their quest for democracy and universal human rights."

I was honored to meet with @Tsihanouskaya at the White House this morning. The United States stands with the people of Belarus in their quest for democracy and universal human rights. pic.twitter.com/SdR6w4IBNZ

— President Biden (@POTUS) July 28, 2021

Lukashenko has been described as Europe's last dictator and has held onto power in Belarus since 1994.

Following the 2020 vote, Lukashenko's fifth election, many Belarusians have sought political asylum in neighboring countries, fearing for their lives.

Olympic sprinter Krystina Tsimanouskaya, 24, became the latest high-profile case of a Belarusian seeking political asylum after she criticized her coaches.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign affairs granted her a visa after she reported being forcibly removed from her team and taken to an airport against her will.

Vitaly was found dead in a park
Vitaly was found dead in a Kyiv park early on Tuesday. Belarusian House in Ukraine