The Chorus of My People
it is not a public event
supplications and groans of those tortured
by nkvd hoodlums
by kgb and mvd scum
in the torture chambers of police stations and prisons
it is not a public event
the death rattles
of those hanged in forest parks
by the riffraff from the riot police
it is not a public event
it is my country’s ruptured womb
the chorus of my people’s birth trauma
September 10–18, 2020
Roman Bondarenko, who was beaten by men in plainclothes in Minsk, has died in intensive care
November 12, 2020
On the evening of November 11, Bondarenko was seized by persons unknown dressed in plainclothes and masks in the courtyard of his house on so-called Change Square and taken away. Neighbors who got through to the Minsk central police department were told that Bondarenko had taken ill and was in hospital. At midnight, Bondarenko was taken to the emergency hospital in serious condition: he was in a coma.
TUT.BY reports that the doctors operated on Bondarenko for several hours: his chances of survival were estimated as one in a thousand. He was unconscious the entire time. He needed another operation, but it was impossible to perform it given his condition.
Bondarenko’s sister Olga Kucherenko told TUT.BY that someone came to the hospital and took all of her brother’s belongings. The family does not know who it was.
In the evening, Bondarenko’s condition deteriorated. He died soon after.
Kucherenko also told Radio Liberty’s Belarusian bureau that she doubted that her brother could have provoked someone into a fight.
“Roma did not provoke anyone: I know this for sure from the the witnesses, and not just one of them. Everything that happened to him happened after Change Square, I know that. I am recording this video so that a large number of people will know what is happening in this country, that people are absolutely defenseless. I very much hope that the law enforcement agencies will open a criminal case. Roma is a very calm person, he never got into any conflicts, even in family relationships. He was very calm and always saw the positive, humorous side of things. I very much hope that justice will prevail and those who did this to him will be punished by real law.”
After the news of Bondarenko’s death, concerned citizens gathered at Change Square. They brought flowers and candles.
Late in the evening on November 11 in the Minsk courtyard known as Change Square, persons unknown tried to remove white-red-and-white ribbons. Bondarenko went out to find out what was going on. People in plainclothes and balaclavas attacked him. A fight broke out. Bondarenko was captured and taken to the central police department. Two hours later, he was in a coma in the intensive care unit of the emergency hospital
The Interior Ministry called the incident a “neighborhood conflict” and a “conflict of opinion.” According to the ministry, “concerned citizens have been trying to restore order and prevent violations of municipal beautification rules.”
The Mingorispolkom police department reported that the security forces arrived on the scene after the brawl: allegedly, the police had received a report about persons unknown fighting in the courtyard on Chervyakov Street.
“Police officers found a 31-year-old citizen with injuries. Subsequently, law enforcement officers called him an ambulance. The man has been hospitalized,” they said.
However, the surveillance video clearly shows persons unknown dragging Bondarenko into a minibus and driving away.
Who Was Roman Bondarenko?
Roman Bondarenko lived on Chervyakov Street near Change Square. Periodically, he spent time with neighbors in the yard. He was an artist by education and had graduated from the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. Recently, he had been working as manager of a store in the Island of Cleanliness chain. He was married. He had served in special forces unit 3214 of the Interior Ministry troops, Belsat reports.
According to relatives, Bondarenko never had any problems with the police, and he did not attend protests or opposition marches.
“He told me that he knows what they can do to him if they detain him, because he served in the special forces,” Bondarenko’s sister told Nasha Niva.
Change Square in Minsk is the name for the courtyard formed by Smorgovsky Tract and Chervyakov Streets. Residents of the nearby residential buildings have created a very close-knit community: in the evenings, tea parties, concerts, and performances are held in the courtyard. For a long time, there was a mural entitled DJs of Change on the transformer vault, and white-red-and-white ribbons constantly hang on the fence. In September, local resident Stepan Latypov was detained there. He demanded that persons unknown who were erasing the mural identify themselves and show their documents. Since September 15, Latypov has been behind bars, accused of “organizing mass riots” and “intending to poison the security forces.”
Thanks to Sasha Razor for the heads-up and other assistance. Photo courtesy of RFE/RL. Translated by the Russian Reader