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Belarus: journalist's 'suicide' questioned

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Belarus: journalist's 'suicide' questioned
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The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has called for an independent investigation into the death of a prominent opposition journalist in Belarus.

Oleg Bebenin was found hanged at his country cottage. He ran the website Charter97, which is critical of President Alexander Lukashenko. Police said he had probably committed suicide, but friends say it doesn’t add up.

Charter97 journalist Natalia Radina said: “He was a true professional and a very reliable person. He would have left neither his family nor his sons nor his colleagues voluntarily, especially before the presidential elections. That’s why I absolutely distrust the police statement that it was suicide.”

A senior colleague said Bebenin enjoyed his work, had a loving family and left no suicide note, adding he had no reason to kill himself. One opposition leader said Bebenin had been kidnapped and beaten in 1997.

The Charter97 website had come under sustained pressure from Lukashenko’s government, which is known for having scant tolerance for dissent.

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