Latvia banned Belarusian Ice Hockey Association Head Dzmitry Baskau and boxer Dzmitry Shakuta from entering its territory ‘for an unspecified period’, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said on Monday.
“I quote a classic: ‘We don’t need such hockey!’,” he wrote on Twitter.
In May, the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation announced its decision not to apply to the International Ice Hockey Federation to move this year’s championship to 2021. Consequently, the 2021 championship is expected to take place in Minsk and Riga, as it was scheduled before. However, amid post-election protests and police violence in Belarus, several European politicians demand Belarus be stripped of the opportunity to co-host World Ice Hockey Championship next year.
Last week, a number of sportspeople and Internet users familiar with the situation identified Baskau and Shakuta (who belong to Alyksandr Lukashenka’s coterie) in photos and videos of the masked persons who brutally attacked Raman Bandarenka. The two men have not commented on the suspicions yet.
On November 11, plainclothes people arrived at the popular offstreet yard known as ‘Square of Change’ 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’. Alyaksandr Lukashenka states that the deceased was ‘drunk’. But the medical papers anonimously published by health workers on Telegram say that there was 0% of ethanol in Bandarenka’s blood.
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.