40 days pass since death of Raman Bandarenka. Criminal case still not opened

‘I Am/We Are Raman Bandarenka’. Photo: Belsat viewers

Minsk resident Raman Bandarenka passed away on November, 12 at the age of 31. Allegedly, he was beaten to death by pro-Lukashenka thugs and/or police officers.

On November 11, plainclothes people arrived at the popular offstreet yard known as ‘Square of Change’ on Charvyakou Street and started to remove white and red ribbons (i.e. symbols in protesters’ colours) fastened on the fences. Raman Bandarenka, who resided in a block of flats not far from it, went out and asked what was going on. Bandarenka was put into a van and driven in an unknown direction.

Then Raman Bandarenka was taken to the neurosurgery unit from Tsentralny district police department where he spent about two hours on Wednesday evening. On November 12, the man slipped into a coma and died of severe head injuries. According to the Belarusian Interior Ministry, the policemen found ‘a citizen who got injuries in a fight’. Government officials, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka, keep claiming that the victim was in a state of intoxication.. But the medical papers anonimously published by health workers on Telegram showed that there was 0% of ethanol in Bandarenka’s blood.

A number of sportspeople and Internet users familiar with the situation identified sports official Dzmitry Baskau and boxer Dzmitry Shakuta (who belong to Lukashenka’s coterie) in photos and videos of the masked persons who brutally attacked the Minsker.

Belarusian human rights watchdogs called on the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General’s Office to open a criminal investigation into Raman Bandarenka’s death and urged the police to immediately identify and search for those involved in the crime. Similarly, no criminal case has been opened yet, his murderers have not been found; other deaths linked to post-election protests (Henadz Shutau, Mikita Kryutsou, Alyaksandr Vikhor, Kanstantsin Shyshmakou, Artsyom Parukou, Alyaksandr Taraykouski) also remain unchallenged.

‘We won’t forget!’: Jail terms over pavement inscription in memory of Alyaksandr Taraykouski

However, criminal charges were brought against several persons who shed light on the circumstances around Bandarenka’s tragedy and covered memorial events and protests in the wake of his being abducted and killed.

TUT.BY reporter Katsyaryna Barysevich was arrested on November, 19; a criminal case over allegedly ‘violating medical privacy which entailed grave consequences’ (Art. 178-3) was initiated opened. In her article about the tragic death of Raman Bandarenka, Barysevich referred to doctor Artsyom Sarokin who gave her medical records which proved that there had been no alcohol in the blood of the victim. Its authenticity was later confirmed by Bandarenka’s mother. Both Barysevich and Sarokin are being kept in the notorious KGB prison ‘Amerykanka’ in Minsk.

In mid November, a Belsat TV crew (journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava) and camerawoman Darya Chultsova were detained immediately after their livestreaming and covering the brutal crackdown on protesters who gathered in the above-mentioned Square of Change to protest against lawlessness and honour the memory of Raman Bandarenka. Chultsova and Andreyeva are accused of ‘organising and preparing actions that grossly violate public order’ (Art. 342-1 of the Criminal Code). If found guilty, the two girls may be sentenced to up to three years of imprisonment.

Belsat, TUT.BY journos Andreyeva, Chultsova, Barysevich recognised as prisoners of conscience

On December 21, Nasha Niva photojournalist Shura Pilipovich-Sushchyts was taken to the detention centre in Akrestsin Street in Minsk; she is to serve a 7-day sentence for reporting from a rally in remembrance of Raman Bandarenka. According to the authorities’ version, she was participating in an unauthorised mass event.

Today, on the 40th Day after his death, unindifferent Belarusians are remembering the departed.