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Story of Raman Bandarenka - Face of Protest #23

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November 12 marks a year since the murder of Belarusian citizen Raman Bandarenka in Minsk. No one has been held responsible for it for a year, and the criminal investigation into the murder was suspended on September 17

On the evening of November 11, 31-year-old Raman Bandarenka went out to the yard of his house to ask people in civilian clothes and masks why they were taking down the white-red-white ribbons hanging in the yard. According to eyewitnesses, he was grabbed by unknown people in civilian clothes and masks and taken away in a police minibus. Some time later Raman was taken to the hospital in a coma, badly beaten. He died the next day. According to the doctors, Bandarenka had practically no chance of surviving.

Press secretary of the Belarusian Interior Ministry Olga Chemodanova called the incident a "domestic conflict" and the people who beat Bandarenka "not indifferent citizens" who "are trying to restore order and prevent violations of the rules of maintenance". Aleksander Lukashenka, in turn, said that Raman Bandarenka was drunk, expressed his condolences to the relatives and said he was taking the case under personal control. At the same time, the investigation of the case has not moved from the starting point for the whole year.
The authorities' version that Raman Bandarenka was intoxicated was refuted by the medical documents published on ТUT. by on 13 November. Later, anesthesiologist and resuscitation doctor Artem Sorokin and journalist Katerina Barysevich were tried for disclosing medical secrets about zero ppm of alcohol in Bandarenka’s blood. Borisevich received six months in jail, while Sorokin received two years in jail with a year’s suspended sentence.

Before he had gone out on the street, Raman Bandarenka wrote in Telegram-chat "I'm going out" — this phrase became a protest symbol for many Belarusians. After Raman Bandarenka’s murder, memorials and mourning rallies were held across the country, during which the law enforcement officials detained hundreds of Belarusians. Journalists of "Belsat" TV channel Katerina Andreeva and Daria Chultsova also got behind bars. They were detained on November 15 while streaming from the action in memory of Bandarenka. Andreeva and Chultsova were accused of "organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them" and sentenced to two years in jail.

On September 17, 2021, the criminal investigation into the death of Raman Bandarenka was suspended. As stated in the report of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the decision was made "due to the failure to identify a person to be consideeed as an accused". At the same time, the agency noted that efforts were made to identify such a person — in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure — even after the suspension of proceedings in the case.

The association of former law enforcement officers BYPOL conducted its own investigation into the death of Raman Bandarenka, claiming to have phone records and billing numbers of Lukashenka’s press secretary Natalya Eismont, Head of the Belarus Hockey Federation Dmitry Baskov, athlete Dmitri Shakuta and 10 other people. They, according to BYPOL, acted on November 11 at the "Square of Changes" under the cover of security forces. Another investigation was initiated by the International Ice Hockey Federation after it became known about the possible involvement of the then Head of the IIHF Baskov in the incident that led to the death of Bandarenka. The IIHF published a statement on its website stating that it had not been determined for certain whether Baskov had anything to do with Bandarenka’s death, but it could not be ruled out that he was present at the incident. As a result, Dmitry Baskov was disqualified for five years. After that, he left his post as Head of the Hockey Federation of Belarus.

Raman Bandarenka went out into the street of his yard and was killed for reacting to lawbreaking by people in civilian clothes. During the year, the Lukashenka regime did nothing to investigate the murder case.