Belarus teenager investigated over protests kills himself, rights group says

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May 26 (Reuters) - A Belarusian teenager who was being investigated for taking part in anti-government protests last year has taken his own life, saying he cannot bear the pressure being put on him, the rights group Viasna-96 said on Thursday.

Dmitry Stakhovsky killed himself within hours of being interrogated by security officials in an investigation into what they called "mass riots", Viasna said.

It circulated a screenshot from Stakhovsky's last social media post, which read: "If you are reading this, then I am not alive. The Investigative Committee is to blame for that.

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"If the moral pressure on me had not continued, I would not have dared to do such a terrible act as suicide. But my strength was running out."

He appeared to acknowledge having taken part in the protests, saying: "It is no longer a secret that I had Criminal Article 293, part 2. In short, for the rallies."

Viasna showed a picture of Stakhovsky in a narrow room, dressed in a purple hooded top and white trainers. It said Stakhovsky was an orphan who had lived in a state hostel.

It gave his age as 17, though the media outlet Belsat, citing his friends, said Stakhovsky was 18.

The State Investigative Committee, which investigates major crimes, declined comment but published a statement saying an 18-year-old Minsk resident had been found dead.

Lukashenko, in power since 1994, last year launched a violent crackdown on mass protests that followed a presidential election that his opponents say was blatantly rigged.

He denies electoral fraud and has painted the protesters as violent revolutionaries backed by foreign powers. read more

On Sunday, Belarus forced an overflying Ryanair plane to land in Minsk and arrested a dissident journalist and his partner.

"The boy was persecuted for participation in protests," exiled opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya tweeted.

"This is devastating. Lukashenka terrorises the country, we have more & more victims. The state terror must be stopped."

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Reporting by Matthias Williams and Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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