US IT worker, 31, is killed in shootout with Belarus security forces that also saw local KGB man shot dead
- Andrei Zeltser, who works for EPAM Systems, resisted arrest during a Minsk raid
- KGB say the ‘terrorist’ opened fire and shot one of their officers, killing him
- KGB returned fire, killing the ‘dangerous criminal’ amid democracy crackdown
An IT worker for a US software company and a KGB officer have been gunned down in a shootout amid a violent crackdown of pro-democracy protesters.
Andrei Zeltser, who works for EPAM Systems, resisted arrest during a raid in Minsk and opened fire on the officers, killing one of them, according to the KGB.
They returned fire on the ‘terrorist and he was shot dead during the apartment search.
Officers stand outside an apartment in Minsk in preparation for a raid amid a democracy crackdown
It is believed Zeltser was a US citizen who was supporting the pro-democracy movement in Belarus, although the US Embassy is yet to confirm his citizenship.
Belarusian authorities have also blocked access to a news site, the latest in a series of steps restricting independent media in the country after it was shaken by a wave of anti-government protests.
The Belarusian Ministry of Information blocked access to the Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus website after it ran a story about the shootout.
The news site, the Belarusian subsidiary of a popular Russian newspaper of the same name, published a comment from the opposition supporter’s friend, who described him a positive light.
Andrei Zeltser, who works for EPAM Systems, resisted arrest during a raid in Minsk and opened fire on the officers, killing one of them, according to the KGB
It is believed Zeltser was a US citizen who was supporting the pro-democracy movement in Belarus
The ministry didn’t provide any reasons for the decision to block the popular website, which is visited by some 20,000 users daily.
Belarusian authorities reported the incident on Tuesday night, alleging that ‘an especially dangerous criminal’ opened fire on security officers after they showed up at his apartment looking for ‘individuals involved in terrorist activities.’
Footage aired by Belarusian state TV channels showed men in plainclothes, trying to break into an apartment.
Authorities said Zeltser’s wife, who was in the apartment at the time, was arrested.
State news agency Belta reported that ‘members of an extremist group with ties to the opposition, supposedly, lived in the apartment.’
They returned fire on the ‘terrorist and he was shot dead during the apartment search
Authorities said Zeltser’s wife, who was in the apartment at the time, was arrested
Belarus’ authorities often referred to protesters at anti-government demonstrations last year as ‘extremists’ and ‘terrorists.’
The huge protests came after election officials gave authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in the August 2020 presidential election that the opposition and the West have denounced as a sham.
Lukashenko’s government unleashed a violent crackdown on the protesters, arresting more than 35,000 people and badly beating thousands of them.
Footage aired by Belarusian state TV channels showed men in plainclothes, trying to break into an apartment
The chief editor of Komsomolskaya Pravda, Vladimir Sungorkin, said Wednesday that access to its Belarusian website was blocked after it ran a short story containing ‘four sentences’ from the man’s classmate ‘about the fact that he was good guy when they studied together, always stood up for the truth.’ Sungorkin added that it has become ‘very difficult’ for journalists to work in Belarus.
After the disputed presidential election last year, authorities in Belarus have shut down the biggest independent media outlets, blocked access to popular news sites and targeted journalists with raids and detentions.
A total of 27 journalists in Belarus are currently behind bars, either already convicted and sentenced or awaiting trials.