Mr. Shishov disappeared after jogging at 9 a.m. near his home in Kiev on Monday, colleagues from Belarusian House said in a statement. Since he fled to Ukraine last fall, according to the statement, he has organized aid for other exiles, organized anti-Lukashenko protests and called on Ukrainian authorities to support the Belarusian diaspora.
“The death takes place amid an unacceptable Belarusian crackdown on civil society”, the United States Embassy in Kiev said on Twitter. “We look forward to a full and thorough investigation by Ukrainian authorities to establish its causes and circumstances. “
Last week, according to his Facebook posts, Mr. Shishov helped organize a rally in Kiev marking the 31st anniversary of Belarus’s independence from the Soviet Union.
His colleagues said he thought he was being followed and that supporters in Belarus had warned him of potential threats to his life. He joked that if something happened to her, it could help her organization get the attention it so desperately needed.
“Vitaly faced these warnings with stoicism and humor,” the organization said. “There is no doubt that this was an operation organized by a spy to liquidate a Belarusian who was really a danger to the regime. “
Mr. Shishov, from the Belarusian region of Gomel near the Ukrainian-Russian border, arrived in Kiev after participating in anti-government rallies, his colleagues said. Last year’s protests erupted after Mr Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in a presidential election that was widely seen as fraudulent.
For many exiles, Ukraine, which has a visa waiver policy for Belarusians, is a transit point to European Union countries like Poland and Lithuania. But Mr. Shishov decided to stay and became a member of the growing community of Belarusian activists in Kiev. He participated in solidarity rallies in the central Independence Square in Kiev and tried to help other newcomers find work and accommodation.