Fate of ORT Cameraman Dzmitry Zavadski Stays Unknown

07.07.2013 Source: Press Service of Belarusian Association of Journalists Story: Unsolved cases

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/