On Friday morning, a 35-year-old Minsker set himself on fire in Independence Square. Although the man has survived, he is now unconscious after receiving burns covering 50% of the body’s surface area, the Belarusian Health Ministry reports.
The first reports about the incident appeared on Telegram at about 11.13 (local time). The video shows the man immolating himself in front of the House of Government. However, the fire was extinguished by a passer-by and a law enforcement officer.
According to nn.by, the committer is Pavel B., who works as a driver in the city trolleybus park. His ex-wife told the newspaper Pavel had a drink issue. State-run news agency BelTA puts focus on the fact that the man has been repeatedly charged under Article 328 of the Criminal Code (illegal drug turnover).
When reached by Belsat, Andrey who has been Pavel’s friend for 15 years has questioned the state-run media’s allegations that Pavel was in a state of intoxication.
“We got acquainted at a festival of medieval culture, Pavel was engaged in the activity of a knights’ club. We travelled and attended festivals together. I borrowed books about the history and culture of Belarus from him. It was obvious that he constantly worried about what was happening in the country. He has been concerned over injustice; his soul and heart are bleeding for Belarus. He has made a very strong move. I do hope for his recovering,” Andrey says.
Investigators and police officers worked at the scene; the injured committer was taken to the Republican Burn Centre. An official statement will be published after ‘clarifying the circumstances’, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Volha Chamadanava told news portal Onliner.
Independence Square, where the House of Government and Minsk City Executive Committee are located, became a popular protest spot in the wake of the 2020 presidential election in Belarus.