First victim: Year passes since killing of Minsker Alyaksandr Taraykouski amid protests

A year ago, Alyaksandr Taraykouski, a 34-year-old resident of Minsk, died during the crackdown on protesters at Pushkinskaya metro station on August, 10. The man, who was approaching a group of soldiers with his hands up, was shot down.

Аlyaksandr Taraykouski

At first, the Interior Ministry stated that the man was about to throw an improvised explosive device at the security officers, but it exploded in his hand. However, in mid August, the Associated Press news agency published a video of Taraykouski’s death. The video shows flashes from law enforcement shots and a man in shorts and a T-shirt with a large bloody stain on his chest. He holds on to the wound with his hand and then falls to the ground. As the video clearly showed no explosives in the protester’s hands, the authorities updated the official version.

According to Investigative Committee chairman Ivan Naskevich, during ‘mass clashes’ near Pushkinskaya metro station in Minsk, Taraykouski, who was ‘ in a state of intoxication’ detached himself from the crowd and, ‘despite numerous warnings voiced by law enforcement officers’, started to move towards them.

“By his actions Taraykouski was provoked law enforcement officers, they were unaware of his goal and excusatory intentions. Keeping in mind the intel information about the feasibility of terrorist attacks and the protesters’ having explosives and arms, they perceived the situation as a real threat to the lives and health of both officers and protesters. in light of this, law enforcement officers followed the instructions and used against him non-lethal weapon, the application of which is aimed not at defeating, but at physical stopping, from a safe distance, which excludes death. Due to the coincidental misfortune, one of the injuries turned out to be penetrating, which resulted in Taraykouski’s death at the scene, ” Naskevich said.

Leak: Senior police officer mentions Lukashenka’s orders to brutalise protesters, set up special camp

In the leaked audio recording published in mid January, a man whose voice bears a strong resemblance to the voice of Deputy Interior Minister Mikalai Karpyankou, mentions Alyaksandr Taraykouski, calling him a ‘drunkard and moron’ who was ‘snuffed out by a rubber bullet that flew into his chest’.

In February, the Belarusian authorities decided against launching criminal proceedings over the death of Taraykouski although there are witnesses to the man’s death. His family was not given access to case files. At the same time, hefty verdicts were given to five defendants over ‘hooliganism’ due to the fact that they paid tribute to Taraykouski.

НMakeshift memorial to Alyaksandr Taraykouski killed on 10 August 2020. Photo: Lesya Pcholka

In September 2020, several Minskers made the inscription “We will not forget!” on the paving flagstones not far from Taraykouski’s death site in the vicinity of Pushkinskaya metro station. The absurdity of the situation might be obvious, but criminal case was opened against them. The five persons were charged with ‘gang hooliganism’ and ‘intentional damaging property’. Dzyanis Hrakhanau and Ihar Samusenka were sentenced to 1.5 years of restriction of liberty in an open-type correctional facility, Maryia Babovich – to 1.5 years of restriction of liberty without having to stay in such institution; Maksim Pavlyushchyk – to two years of imprisonment in a minimum security penal colony, and Uladislau Hulis – to two years in a maximum security penal colony.

It should be recalled again that no criminal case has ever been opened over the murder of Alyaksandr Taraykouski. There are other deaths linked to post-election protests (Henadz Shutau, Mikita Kryutsou, Alyaksandr Vikhor, Kanstantsin Shyshmakou, Artsyom Parukou, Raman Bandarenka).

At least 15: Deaths linked to post-election protests in Belarus