A Belarusian activist who ran a group in Ukraine helping people flee persecution has been found dead in the capital, Kyiv.

Vitaly Shishov was found hanged in a local park not far from his home, police said in a statement. He was known for helping many Belarusians flee persecution through his organization, Belarusian House in Ukraine (BDU).

The news of his death comes after he reportedly helped Arseniy Zdanevich, the husband of Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, flee from Belarus to Ukraine.

Other members of his organization reported him missing after he failed to return from a run on Monday. Shortly after, officials found his body, and Reuters reports that police are considering both the possibility of suicide or murder made to look like a suicide.

Ukraine's police chief Ihor Klymenko said Shishov was found with cuts to his face and knee, but they didn't have enough evidence to conclude whether he was attacked or not.

Shishov's colleagues reported that he had felt like he was being constantly watched after he took part in anti-government protests in Belarus last year. And was even warned that his actions could result in being kidnapped or killed.

People have since shared their thoughts surrounding the unsettling news.

One Facebook user wrote: "I knew when I read about her seeking refuge her family was going to be in danger. That's how dictatorships operate. If they can't get to you, they get to those closest to you. Anyone that steps in the way is signing their own death warrant. That dude was courageous. He no doubt knew how things were going to end up for him. Hats off to him for doing what was right even still."

In a statement, BDU said it was "also repeatedly warned by both local sources and our people in the Republic of Belarus about all kinds of provocations, including kidnapping and liquidation." It added: "Vitaly treated these warnings stoically and with humor."

Belarusians have been escaping the country after President Alexander Lukashenko's disputed election in 2020.

Thousands of people have since taken part in anti-government protests which have resulted in a crackdown on non-governmental organizations and independent media.

A Belarusian exile named Ihor told Reuters that Shishov knew he was under surveillance, recalling that his car had been followed and his girlfriend was approached by strangers. Ihor commented: "Lukashenko's regime is at war, and he is at war. He is at war with anyone who can offer any resistance."

At this time, police don't think Shishov's death has anything to do with Zdanevich's move to Ukraine, which happened on the same day his wife was told she had to return to Belarus from the Olympics Village. Luckily, he has managed to find asylum in Poland.