Thousands of Belarusians have protested against military leader Alexander Lukashenko’s death in police custody of a military veteran and children’s art teacher.
Roman Bondarenko, a 31-year-old artist, pummeled by several men, believed to be plain police officers in a Minsk courtyard known as the Square of Change on Wednesday as a dispute over ribbons, Indicate support for anti-government protests.
Bondarenko, who allegedly hit his head to the ground during the attack, was detained and put into a van and disappeared into police custody. When his family finally visited him, he was in a coma at a hospital in the city, where he died of brain damage on Thursday.
The government has lost its hands over the incident, saying that Bondarenko had injuries in a road fight between the government and opposition supporters.
His family is sure he was beaten in custody after his arrest, with a relative saying that “everything that happened to him happened after class”.
A relative, Olga Kucurenko, said in a video posted by Radio Sveboda, “I am filming this video so that more and more people know what is happening in this country, that people are absolutely unhappy.”
Belarus has been shaken by one of the biggest protests in its history after Lukasenko claimed victory in the August elections by widespread voter fraud.
The death is the latest trauma of the Belarus protest movement, which has already beaten and tortured thousands of people in police stations, been jailed in political protests and forced to flee the country, and, more recently, victims seized by the government Donation to
Protests erupted on Thursday and Friday, with thousands of people attending the square on Thursday evening with vigil, burning flowers and candles in Bondrenko’s memory. “Tribunal!” The crowd pleaded for justice.
Svetlana Tikankovskaya, a former presidential candidate living outside Belarus, wrote on the telegram, “Roman Bondarenko was killed by the regime’s allies. He was an innocent victim of an inhuman system that considers people’s lives to be the cost of power. We all understand that any peaceful person can end up in his place. “
European diplomats also expressed concern over Bondarenko’s death. Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius has written that he was “shocked” at the “shocking cynicism, the brutality of the regime”.
“This is a humiliating and shameful result of actions by Belarusian authorities that have not only directly and violently repressed their populations, but have also created an environment that can lead to such lawless, violent acts,” A European Union spokesman said additional sanctions were being threatened against the government.
Last week, the EU announced sanctions against Lukashenko, his son Victor and 13 other officials responsible for “violent repression and intimidation of peaceful protesters”.
On Friday, the Belarusian parliament discussed a new measure aimed at opposition supporters, guilty of extremism or “harming the national interest”.