Fifteen years without Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky
September 16 2014

Fifteen years ago politician Viktor Gonchar and businessman Anatoly Krasovsky were subjected to involuntary disappearance. Their fate remains unknown till now.

On the 16th of September 1999 Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky had an appointment in a sauna house on Fabrichnaya street in Minsk. Due to witnesses of people living in the neighboring apartment blocks, at 22:35 the two men were attacked by a group of unidentified people and taken away in an auto. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

In the years 1999-2000 four prominent persons in Belarus — ex-minister of Internal Affairs Yuri Zakharenko, Wise-Speaker of the Supreme Council Viktor Gonchar, businessman and  famous public figure Anatoly Krasovsky and journalist Dmitry Zavadsky — were subjected to involuntary disappearance. Their whereabouts remain unknown. There are evidences, though, that high official persons including the present head of the state, are suspected to be involved in the abduction and possible murder of the four people. And this situation, crossing the edge of absurd, when the criminals are known but remain beyond the grasp of justice, only strengthens the despair of the family members of the disappeared.

Today In Eindhoven (Netherlands) commemoration ceremony is due to take place to mark the 15th anniversary of Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky disappearance. The ceremony will be opened by Anatoly Krasovsky's daughter Valeriya.

Memory actions will also take place in Minsk, Warsaw, Washington.

1999 was a year of bitter confrontation between the Lukashenko regime and opponents of the imposed by him on the 1996 referendum new version of the Constitution that fixed among other things a new date for presidential elections. Political forces that did not recognize the modified by Lukashenko Constitution and his claims to remain in office until 2001 had an unwavering purpose in the course of the struggle against the regime to hold the elections in 1999 as was predetermined by the first Constitution of independent Belarus.

A considerable number of Lukashenko's opponents closed the ranks around the Supreme Soviet of the 13th Convocation. Before the 1996 referendum that dissolved this supreme legislative body of the country, the Supreme Soviet did not represent specific political views. It embodied the Law and was a serious obstacle for Lukashenko to gain unlimited power. Thus, the Supreme Soviet of the 13th Convocation denied Lukashenko’s demand to extend his term in office to seven years and modify the Constitution to extend power of the executive branch. The 1996 referendum initiated by Lukashenko in order to crush the resistance of the legislature was held with violations incompatible with fundamental legal regulations. Since then Lukashenko perceived the figure of Mr. Gonchar, deputy chairman of the Supreme Soviet, as his direct political rival.

The danger for Lukashenko posed by the activities of the opposition that in 1999 fixed the purpose of alternative presidential elections had nothing to do with stripping him of the prolonged term in office. The opposition had an effective instrument to destroy the Lukashenko regime as a house of cards. To hold presidential elections ignoring the imposed version of the Constitution meant to catch the regime on the spot of its first grave crime, to publicly prove the illegitimate nature of its rule. Lukashenko was aware of this danger precisely because the 1996 referendum was designed by him as a means of absolute usurpation of power in the country and a guarantee of perpetuation in office. Therefore the solidity of the danger for Lukashenko posed by the political forces united with the Supreme Soviet of the 13th Convocation cannot be overestimated.

Viktor Gonchar, deputy chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the 13th Convocation, Lukashenko’s irreconcilable opponent, a generally recognized opposition leader, and his friend, prominent entrepreneur Anatoly Krasovsky who financed the opposition movement, drew close attention of special services responsible for the regime's security. Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky were put under surveillance, their telephones bugged.

The tragedy was set to happen on September 16, 1999. In the afternoon of that day Anatoly Krasovsky and Viktor Gonchar were abducted. The law enforcement agencies started investigating the case; however all known to date evidence has been collected by volunteers. That includes windscreen fragments of Mr. Krasovsky's car used by the friends that day found on Fabrichnaya Street in Minsk, traces of blood identified as Mr. Gonchar’s by an independent expert examination. These and other evidence clarify the details of the abduction and are recognized by general public as a proof of direct involvement of security services. The official investigation, despite the fact of permanent surveillance over Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky conducted by the KGB, announced that the case could not be solved. After Mr. Gonchar and Mr. Krasovsky disappeared the KGB issued a statement claiming that surveillance was suspended precisely on September 16.
In June 2001 the testimonies of KGB investigators Petrushkevich and Sluchek became known to the world community. They told some details of the system of physical removal of the unwanted in Belarus that has taken shape since Lukashenko came to power.