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Belarus KGB Says Officer, Minsk Resident Killed In Shoot-Out, But Video Raises Questions

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Gunfight In Minsk: Doubts Raised About Dramatic Video As Two Killed In KGB Raid
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MINSK -- The Belarusian Committee of State Security (KGB) says one of its officers and a resident of Minsk were killed in a shoot-out during a raid on September 28.

The KGB did not identify the man by name or profession in a statement, but said he was a "terrorist" -- a term it often uses to describe protesters and those voicing opposition to the regime of authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

RFE/RL could not independently verify the statement or alleged footage of the incident that was aired on Belarusian state television. Several people have questioned what they say are inconsistencies in the video footage that they say cast doubt over the incident.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka ramps up pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown against protesters and the opposition following an August 2020 election widely considered fraudulent.

"During special measures on checking addresses where persons involved in terrorist activities could be located, an extremely dangerous person opened fire on law enforcement officers from one of the apartments, resulting in the fatal wounding of an officer of the Committee of State Security," the KGB said in a statement, adding that the assailant was killed by security officers.

Franak Viacorka, a senior adviser to Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, said on Twitter that the man killed was an IT worker with software company EPAM Systems, which is also based in the United States.

"There are so many questions. Andrey Zeltsar, shot by KGB today, was working at one of the biggest Belarus IT companies @EPAMSYSTEMS. He was also reportedly a U.S. citizen. According to his friends, he supported [the] democracy movement in Belarus. His wife has been detained," Viacorka said. He did not reveal the source of his information.

"The violence must stop! The regime hopes that violence can split society and threaten opponents. But violence cannot be the solution to the crisis. Enough victims. The rule of law must return to the country. Lukashenka must step down," Viacorka added.

Euroradio also identified Zeltsar as the man who was killed during the shoot-out.

Andrey Zeltsar
Andrey Zeltsar

Julie Fisher, the U.S. ambassador to Belarus, told Reuters that Washington is seeking additional information on whether a U.S. citizen was involved in the incident.

Belarus was engulfed by protests last year after a presidential election in August -- which the opposition and West say was rigged -- gave Lukashenka a sixth consecutive term.

In response, the government has cracked down hard on the pro-democracy movement, arresting thousands of people and pushing most of the top opposition figures out of the country.

Lukashenka, who has run the country since 1994, has denied any fraud in the election and refuses to negotiate with the opposition on a political transition and new elections.

The KGB said in a separate statement that a probe was launched into the killing of the KGB officer. According to the statement, the suspect who died was 31, while his 40-year-old wife was arrested on a charge of being an accomplice in the killing because she was filming the shoot-out.

With reporting by Euroradio and Reuters
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