Belarusian activist Vitali Chychov goes missing in Kiev

Vitali Chychov, who leads a Ukraine-based group helping Belarusians fleeing abroad, has gone missing on Monday in Kiev, his organisation said on Telegram.

The dissident left for a jog in the Ukrainian capital on Monday morning but did not return, the Belarusian House in Ukraine said. He could not be reached on his cell phone, the group added.

Human rights group Viasna, citing friends of the activist, said on Telegram that Chychov had already been followed while jogging lately.

Police and volunteers are searching the area where Chychov was jogging, so far without result, the Belarusian House said.

Since the August 2020 presidential vote that the West denounced as rigged, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has cracked down on opposition protests in his country, prompting many dissidents to flee — often to Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania.

Chychov’s disappearance comes just a day after Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was granted a visa to travel to Poland after she said she feared for her safety if she returned to Belarus.

She claimed after criticising how the team was being run in Japan, Belarusian officials had tried to force her home to Belarus.