Belarussian government critic found dead

Minsk/Moscow - The founder of a prominent Belarus opposition website was found dead Friday at his summer cottage not far from Minsk, the human rights group Charter 97 said.

The body of Oleg Bebenin, one of the founders of Charter 97, was discovered at 5.30 pm. The cause of death was not clear.

Bebenin was earlier the deputy chief editor of Imya, an independent Belarussian newspaper. He founded in 1998.

The website said he is survived by his wife and two sons.

In May, Belarus' authoritarian government unleashed a series of home searches against opposition activists, arresting a number of government critics temporarily.

Masked policemen carried out the nationwide raids over several days in the widest-reaching crackdown against dissent in the former Soviet republic in two years, opposition spokesmen said.

Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko ordered the raids personally in preparation for an election next year. Lukashenko late last year imposed state censorship of the internet. European human rights activists have called him "Europe's last dictator."


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