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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

100 Rally Over Missing ORT Cameraman

APWomen carrying portraits of ORT cameraman Dmitry Zavadsky, left, and former lawmaker Viktor Gonchar at the Minsk rally.
MINSK, Belarus -- About 100 demonstrators rallied at the Belarussian president's office to commemorate the third anniversary since the disappearance of a cameraman that has attracted international attention.

Demonstrators carried portraits of Dmitry Zavadsky, who worked for Russia's ORT television and went missing on July 7, 2000, after he left for the Minsk airport to meet a Russian colleague. He is feared dead, and no body has ever been found.

Zavadsky is one of several people to have disappeared in recent years. Opposition groups say they were targeted because they ran afoul of President Alexander Lukashenko, who denies any involvement.

Zavadsky's mother, Olga, accused officials in Lukashenko's administration of knowledge in the disappearance.

"That's why they don't want an objective investigation," she said at the protest Monday.

In March 2002, a Belarussian court sentenced a group of criminals to terms ranging from 12 years to life in prison on charges of kidnapping Zavadsky. Government prosecutors said the group was led by a former officer of the elite Almaz police force, Valery Ignatovich, who was angered by Zavadsky's television reports. The trial, however, shed no light on what happened to Zavadsky.

In 2001, the United States granted asylum to two former Belarussian investigators whom it said had revealed credible evidence that Lukashenko ran a death squad that had killed 30 of his critics, including possibly Zavadsky.