In the evening of 11 November, masked people arrived at the “changes courtyard” on Chervyakova Street in Minsk. They cut white-red-white ribbons off and painted over the mural on the transformer box. Local residents were outraged by the actions of the unwelcomed quests. Among them was 31-year-old Roman Bondarenko, who sent a message “I’m going out!” before going outside to see what was going on.
In the courtyard, he said something to unknown people in masks, they tied him up and dragged into a car. The next morning the neighbors will find out: at night, Roman was brought unconscious to hospital, immediately to the intensive care unit. Doctors fought for his life, but, alas: the Minsker died in the evening of the 12th. TUT.BY tried to collect all the details of that evening in order to understand what happened.
Four main footages and their participants
The participants of the incident in Changes Square can be identified by several videos filmed by eyewitnesses. TUT.BY is aware of at least five such recordings.
An update: After the article was published, readers pointed out the inaccuracy in identifying a person, who was first knocked to the ground. We have edited this detail. In the first footage, one can see: two men fighting each other, one of them is a man in a black jacket with a gray hood, black hat and light brown sneakers [we will denote him by number 5 – Ed.].
A video footage of the unknown people beating up Roman Bondarenko
[One woman, offscreen, is filming the incident on her phone, another one is heard screaming and asking people to call the police, leave their apartments to help, as well as demanding the unknown to remove their masks]. A man [which we denote by number 1], dressed in a dark jacket and blue jeans is twisting the man’s [number 5] arms behind his back. One can see a white mask on number 1’s face, as well as a light belt. He wears black sneakers and rolled up jeans.
After being pushed, the man [number 5] bumps into a green horizontal bar. At this moment (0.04), women are heard shouting: “Take off your mask”, “Take it off!”. A camera moves aside and one can see the man [number 1] running sideward after someone, probably after the same guy [number 5].
Soon it’s heard: “On the ground, f** !!!”, and the author of the video starts screaming. There is another man lying at the horizontal bar, all in black, his hood is of the same colour – probably Roman Bondarenko – the man [number 2] is standing over him, while the man [number 1] has went off the grid.
The number 2 is almost completely dressed in gray, and a blue quilted vest. His head is hidden by a gray sweatshirt hood, and face – by a black mask. He wears dark [most likely blue – Ed.] sneakers with a bright white sole and a light triangle pattern on the heel.
At this moment 90.14) the reply “Leave me alone” [apparently from Roman – Ed.] is heard, after which the number 2 swings and hits the guy on the ground. At the same moment, one more man [number 3] runs up to them.
The man [number 3] is dressed in dark clothes, one can see white sneakers with a black stripe along the back of the heel and a black V-shaped stripe on the toe of the boot.
Another footage from a different angle shows the man [number 1] trying to knock down the unknown man [number 5], unsuccessfully trips him and pushes to the horizontal bar.
There is another eyewitness record which shows some of the events: the man [number 1] runs after someone, while the man [number 2] grabs the guy on the move – as we assume, Roman [whom we distinguish from the other guy by the absence of a gray hood – Ed.] – by his stomach and pressing his neck to the ground. In the end, the number 2 knocks him to the ground at the same horizontal bar. He shouts three times: “To the ground, f**!”
There’s another video: two men [numbered 2 and 3], who are trying to twist Roman, are approached by another man [number 4]. He is dressed in all black, with a hood on his head. He wears black sneakers with white soles, and carries a shoulder bag with a black belt.
After two seconds (0.04), three of them can be seen picking the guy up, with his sneakers soaring up.
A video footage of the unknown grabbing Roman Bondarenko
Finally, there is a fifth recording from surveillance cameras. At 22.14.48 [10.14 pm], three people are carrying a man in their hands, while he twitches. There is a man in a gray and dark vest [similar to the number 2] is walking behind. They all dissapear behind a fence.
A video footage of a man being detained in the courtyard in Chervyakova street
Another video that shows how the unknown men carrying Roman Bondarenko into a white minibus
This is consistent with the words of local residents who spoke with reporters. So, they told TUT.BY that on Wednesday evening, people in civilian clothes and masks came to their courtyard to cut off white-red-white ribbons. Roman was one of those who came out to ask them what was going on.
“There was a heated verbal exchange between a man in a mask and an unknown guy, Roma did not participate in it, he stood nearby and listened,” said Yulia, an eyewitness to the events. “Then he said something, and the man in the mask said ‘I see you are a sassy one’. He pushed Roma closer to the mural, he tried to dodge, but the unknown grabbed him and threw him with all his might to the slide [we call it a horizontal bar – Ed.’] He hit his head hard.”
Another eyewitness clarified that four minibuses arrived in their courtyard in the ecening on 11 November.
“The ones that work during the protest rallies. There were two minibuses with tinted windows, I could see a driver in black clothes and a balaclava. In two others, there were plainclothesmen, their faces were hidden under masks, hoods and hats. Roman asked them why they had come and what they were doing. One of the men was aggressive from the start, he started insulting him and then pushed Roman.”
At that moment, the woman was distracted and when she turned around, Roman Bondarenko was already held by several people. “It was clear that people know how to conduct detentions. Roman was conscious when they took him into a minibus,” said Tatiana.
Thus, we can summarize: the scuffle began after a verbal exchange with a man [number 1] with an unknown guy [number 5]. As a result, the man knocked the guy to the ground and then chased after him. At that moment, another guy, presumably Roman, was approached by a man in a mask [number 2], and then two more men [numbered 3 and 4] came to help him. As a result, he [number 5] was carried into a minibus.
This was the last time Roman Bondarenko was seen awake and surrounded by four unknown men. The video captured: three are carrying a guy [there may be men numbered 3 and 4 among them], and the man [number 2] following them.
In addition to the video near the house, the same sequence of events was confirmed by an eyewitness quoted by the @motolkohelp telegram channel. According to the man, the conflict lasted 3-5 minutes, at 10.15 pm, three men carried Roman into the minibus, and he was moving at the time. The people saw the arrival of the police only at 10.33 pm.
What happened to Bondarenko after his arrest and before admission to hospital?
In the official commentary, the Minsk police reported that they received a call at about 10.30 pm “that a fight broke out in a courtyard of a house on Chervyakova Street in Minsk between aggressive locals who were hanging ribbons and those taking them off. […] Subsequently, law enforcement officers called him an ambulance.”
However, it turned out that Roman Bondarenko was taken to the hospital from the Central District Department of Internal Affairs.
The police, apparently, were called after the end of the conflict, when the unknown people carried the guy into the minibus. Earlier, readers sent TUT.BY a document [without seals and signatures], an alleged excerpt of Roman Bondarenko’s examination upon admission to the emergency hospital No. 29110. The journalists managed to confirm that the doctor indicated in the document actually worked that night and examined Roman at 12.05 am. What happened to the guy between his detention by the unknown and admission to hospital remains unclear.
In the “complaints” section, it is indicated that “[a patient] can’t to the severity of the condition.” Further it is written: “Delivered from the District Department of Internal Affairs at Orlovskaya, 58. According to the latter [names are not indicated – Ed], he participated in a fight. He was vomiting, after which an ambulance was called. And there was a mark that the guy was unconscious.
“Anti-vandals” and those coming to courtyards to remove symbols
Who could the unknown visitors to Changes Square be?
Recall that that eyewitnesses said that the unknown people not only cut off the ribbons in the yard, but also sparyed over the mural with bright green paint. State TV channels have repeatedly reported about “concerned citizens” engaged in such activities. They even share it on Instagram.
Noteworthy that one of the participants of the events in Changes Square on 11 November is very similar to a person involved in an incident at the Megapolis residential complex on 18 October. This is a man in gray clothes and a quilted blue vest [we called him number 2], who detained Roman Bondarenko.
On 18 October, at about 11 pm, the unknown people were cutting off white-red-white ribbons at the Megapolis residential complex on Dzerzhinsky Avenue. The indignant local residents came outside, there was an argument, and then a fight. Someone called the police.
“They were aggressive. Those who arrived used some kind of fighting moves, they simply knocked down our local men. The women pointed flashlights in their faces,” eyewitnesses said then.
On the left sleeve of the intruder, one can see a pattern. The same jacket with the same pattern on the shoulder was worn by the person spotted in Changes Square on 11 November. Below are two images [on the left is Megapolis residential complex on 18 October, and on the right is Changes Square on 11 November].
In addition, the same person was also spotted in the video [published by Onliner.by]: a man in the same clothes was among the visitors who twisted the hands of the Megapolis residents [pay attetion to what is happenin in the background from 0.03 sec].
A video footage of people cutting of white-red-white ribbons in Minsk courtyard which ended in a fight
Moreover, on 18 October, among the “guests” of the Megapolis, eyewitnesses noticed a man very similar to the current head of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation Dmitry Baskov. Later, when asked by journalists whether he was in Megapolis or not, he refused to comment.
According to locals, after the arrival of the security forces that evening they dispersed, but the “guests” stayed. They walked around painting over murals. They also corrected the inscription “Long live Belarus” to “For Belarus”. The police press service confirmed the information later. So, back in October, Megapolis residents took pictures of unknown people who came to cut off the ribbons. Next to a man who looks like Baskov is a man in gray clothes and a dark vest on top of his clothes.
The residents of the “changes courtyard” said that among the intruders on 11 November, they saw a man very similar to the one on the left in the picture above. On 12-13 November, TUT.BY journalists repeatedly tried to contact Dmitry Baskov. But he refused to talk and hung up. A spokeswoman of the Ice Hockey Federation said that the chairman is not present and will not be in the coming days. It is known that the head of the Ice Hockey Federation is an active participant of the pro-government rallies.
TUT.BY spoke with one of the residents of Changes Square. Dmitry did not see the incident with Roman Bondarenko, but he personally spoke to those cutting the ribbons in the courtyard later. It was around 10.30 pm.
“I saw that there were people actively cutting ribbons off the fence, and the woman was painting murals with green paint. I stopped to talk, just asked ‘Guys, what are you doing? Why are you defacing the wall?’ […]. ”
After explaining that he “came with peace”, Dmitry managed to talk with the unknown people “about the situation in the country.” They were in ordinary clothes, they said they were ‘putting things in order’. The masked man introduced himself as Dmitry.
“The man’s name exactly Dmitry, I remembered, because we are namesakes. Not tall, shorter than me, that is, less than 185 centimeters. In the conversation, it turned out that he, like me, is over 40 years old, that he has children. Dark, black eyebrows, brown eyes. When I saw him, I recalled the face of a man from the videos about the situation in the Megapolis, he looks like him.”
Also, according to the footage from Changes Square [11 November, left] and the Megapolis [18 October, right], it can be assumed that the same person was spotted in both locations. He can be identified by a dark-colored jacket with four iron buttons, which gave a glare from lanterns on a dark street. The first photo below shows a masked man watching an unknown man [number 1] trying to knock down a guy [number 5]. In the second photo: there is a man who was spotted at the Megapolis a few weeks ago.
A kind of “report” from the Megapolis [a photo of the cut off ribbons on 18 October] and neighborhoods nearby was published the next day on the Anti-vandal-by Instagram account. The photo was captioned with the adresses and tags “I/we are Batska [a father in Belarusian, meaning Lukashenko – Ed.], “you don’t give away your beloved”, “we are patriots”, “vote for Lukashenko” and so on.
The account contains a lot of photos from all over Minsk and posts where the unknown report how they remove white-red-white ribbons at night, change graffiti in the courtyards to the ideologically correct ones, and so on. The first post in the account appeared on 12 October, now it has 444 subscribers, most of them have closed accounts, and state symbols on their profile pictures.
“Fight against white-red-white-symbols on the streets of Minsk. Please send your applications here,” reads the profile description. It is still unclear who exactly is behind the Anti-Vandal initiative. On the other hand, Grigory Azarenok, an employee of the state STV channel, devoted a separate story to them on 18 October. This is what he said in a report filmed on dark streets: “The Anti-Vandal group arrived in one of the Minsk courtyards to get rid of the unregistered symbols. It has become a permanent job for enthusiasts lately. […] The anti-vandals are thoroughly armed: paints, scissors – everything that is necessary for their work. But the main tool is enthusiasm.”
In a TV report, he talks to a man who admits that he has been driving “with the guys” for the fourth time, but “I monitor my district for a long time, from the first days”. The interlocutor shows the camera the easiest way to cut off the ribbons. Another person, a woman in a camouflage jacket, says that when white-red-white ribbons appeared in her yard, she started writing in groups “with concerned citizens and real patriots of their country.”
With a high degree of probability, the people in the report are directly related to the Anti-Vandal-By Instagram account. Both, in the STV report and in the group’s social media account, the same sketch for graffiti – the inscription “Wipe your feet” on the image of the white-red-white flag – was seen.
Thus, we can assume that the Anti-vandal group has a connection with the guests of the Megapolis residential complex on 18 October. There is one more curious moment: in the evening of 11 November, people with scissors and paint came not only to Changes Square.
About an hour later, at 11.48 pm on 11 November [according to the timestamp], a group of unknown people with cans of paint appeared at the Megapolis complex. They cut off the ribbons, and painted the murals of local residents with bright green paint.
According to the video ffotage, at least seven people were at the scene, including women. People spotted five minibuses: one brought those who cut ribbons off, two more with people inside parked nearby, while two others were driving around.
An hour later, at about 12.40 am, in the so-called Truth Square [the house near the Petrovshchina metro station], groups of unknown people appeared. Eyewitnesses told TUT.BY that the intruders began to argue with local residents about what objects are allowed to hung on the fence.
“The important thing happened at 01.30 am, when a company of 20 men and women appeared in the courtyard, they painted over all the murals and cut off all the ribbons for 30-40 minutes. They arrived in different cars, we photographed two of them,” the locals said. Below is the photo of one of the cars.
In one of the pictures, in a UAZ car with Minsk number plates, one can see a woman in a camouflage jacket. A woman similar to her appeared in Azarenok’s story about Anti-vandals.
Social media users also remembered a group of unknown people who came to Novaya Borovaya on 2 November to remove white-red-white ribbons from the fence. It was a group of men and women. People were struck by the fact that they were accompanied by security forces with weapons. According to the locals, they even pointed the shotguns at them during the argument.
A video footage of people cutting off white-red-white ribbons under the supervision of people with weapons
Also, the users remembered a man who was rude to people and cut off ribbons [0.37 sec]. They suggest that this is the same man [number 1] who detained the unknown guy [number 5] in Changes Square. The man has the same physique, he was wearing a black jacket, his face was hidden by a hood and a white mask, and rolled up jeans.
The fact that the groups that drive to different districts of the city are interconnected a very similar woman from three different events. The first frame shows a woman who was spotted while removing ribbons in Novaya Borovaya on 2 November. She was dressed in an elongated green jacket and black pants.
A woman wearing similar clothes was filmed by the Megapolis residents on 12 November, she was in the group of people who cut ribbons off. The stranger was also recorded on 24 October, when someone redrew the murals in the courtyard overnight and the inscriptions “For Belarus”, “For Batska” [a father in Belarusian, meaning Lukashenko – Ed.] and stickers with the image of state flag appeared, locals say.
Investigative Committee: “aggressive locals” and “alcohol intoxication”
On 13 November, the press service of the Investigative Committee reported that the committee is conducting investigation into the death of a 31-year-old man in Minsk.
“According to the investigation, on 11 November, the police received a message that a fight broke out in the courtyard of a house on Chervyakova Street in Minsk between aggressive locals who were hanging ribbons and those taking them off. The police officers arriving at the scene found a man with bodily injuries and signs of alcohol intoxication.”
The Minsk resident was taken to the Central District Department of Internal Affairs of Minsk to determine the circumstances.
“Due to deteriorating health of the man, law enforcement officers called him an ambulance. The Minsker was examined by doctors, after which he was hospitalized, where during the initial examination, along with bodily injuries, he was diagnosed with alcohol intoxication. The next day, despite the care received, the man died,” reads the statement.
However, emergency hospital doctors and medical documents refuted the information about alcohol intoxication. To determine the exact cause of death, a forensic medical examination was ordered, medical documents were seized, videos published on the internet are analyzed.