Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

Journalists Killed in 2010 - Motive Confirmed: Aleh Byabenin

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date January 2011
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Journalists Killed in 2010 - Motive Confirmed: Aleh Byabenin, January 2011, available at: [accessed 21 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Charter 97
September 3, 2010, in an area outside Minsk, Belarus

Aleh Byabenin, 36, founder and director of the Minsk-based pro-opposition news website Charter 97, was found hanged in a stairway in his summer house outside the capital, Minsk. The journalist's brother discovered the body after Byabenin stopped responding to phone calls.

Authorities immediately said the journalist had committed suicide after drinking heavily, an account Byabenin's colleagues disputed. Charter 97 staffers told CPJ that Byabenin had left no suicide note, was in excellent health, and had just returned from a family vacation in Greece. Dmitry Bandarenko, a friend who saw the body, told CPJ that Byabenin's right ankle was badly wrenched and that he had unexplained bruises on his left hand, chest, and back. Bandarenko and others said it appeared that police had conducted only a cursory investigation at the scene.

Facing media criticism and protests from Byabenin's colleagues, prosecutors acknowledged a week later that the editor could have been murdered. Authorities reopened the investigation but announced in December that they had found no evidence of foul play. CPJ and other media groups called for an independent investigation.

Byabenin's website had long been at odds with authorities. Charter 97 often reported on government wrongdoing, including human rights abuses, corruption in the security services, and opposition activities. Its coverage had been met with police interrogations of journalists, confiscation of equipment, politicized audits, and debilitating cyber attacks. Shortly before his death, Byabenin agreed to participate in the presidential campaign of an opposition candidate, Andrei Sannikov.

Job:Editor, Publisher / Owner
Beats Covered:Corruption, Politics
Local or Foreign:Local
Type of Death:Murder
Suspected Source of Fire:Unknown Fire
Taken Captive:No
Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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