A Belarussian opposition group protested the brutal murder of an ethnic Polish political activist, anti-government activists said Tuesday.
The Union of Poles in Belarus (UPB), a group devoted to promoting the rights of ethnic Poles in the former Soviet republic, accused police of refusing to investigate the death of Jusefa Varaksa because she had spoken out against the government in the past.
Relatives found Varaksa, 68, dead in her home in a village outside the capital Minsk last week. She had suffered multiple knife wounds including an apparent attempt to cut out her tongue.
Eyewitnesses at the crime scene said the assailant or assailants broke a window to enter the house. Varaska's valuables were untouched.
Andrei Pachobut, a UPB spokesman, blamed the attack on Belarus' state-controlled television, which two months ago aired a propaganda piece linking UPB officials with millions of dollars of alleged payments from spy agencies of NATO member states.
False reports of western financing to the UPB likely made Varaksa a target for robbers who tortured her to death in trying to locate secret funds that did not exist, Pachobut said.
Police are refusing to open an investigation into the killing, and the Belarus Interior Ministry has rejected a UPB application to march in protest, he added.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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