The last message that Roman Bondarenko wrote in a chatroom of famous courtyard protest venue *Changes Square: “I’m coming out!”. According to his neighbours, unknown persons in masks once again came to cut off white-red-white ribbons, at some point a scuffle began. Battered Roman was put into a minibus and taken away, after about an hour and a half the man was taken to an emergency hospital with cerebral edema.
Roman was admitted to the emergency room at 12.05 am with a large cerebral edema, closed craniocerebral trauma, subdural hematomas, bruises, abrasions. The 31-year-old was in a catatonic state and brought to the operating room in a coma.
The operation lasted several hours. According to medics, the young man is currently in critical condition.
At about 10 pm on Wednesday, residents spotted several minibuses with unknown persons in masks who came to remove white-red-white ribbons in their courtyard. “Six men and three women civilian clothes arrived. Judging by their conversation, they were not ordinary citizens,” says Yulia.
Residents of high-rise buildings immediately wrote about this in a local chatroom. Among those who decided to go outside was Roman Bondarenko, he wrote: “I’m coming out!”.
“There was a heated verbal exchange between a man in a balaclava and an unknown guy, Roma did not interfere, he stood nearby and listened,” says an eyewitness of the events. “Then he said something, and the man in the balaclava said ‘I see you are a sassy one’.
Pushed Roma closer to the mural, he tried to dodge, but the unknown grabbed him and threw him with all his might to a children’s slide. He hit his head hard.” Residents note that it all happened so fast they can’t recall all the details: someone’s phone fell, someone picked it up and began to run away.
The video footage shows an incident in the yard.
“Two people started beating Roma. They were also beating a guy whose name we don’t know, he initially spoke with a masked man. It was around 10.16 pm. Then Roman was taken away. It’s hard to tell the exact time, but at 10.30 pm we returned home. We started calling police departments.”
Later, the neighbours found out that Roman Bondarenko is in a hospital in serious condition. According to the residents, the young man is an artist, just yesterday he quit his job. Investigative actions are underway on Changes Square today.
According to Tatiana, one of those interviewed by the Investigative Committee, four minibuses arrived in their courtyard yesterday.
“The ones that work during the protest rallies. There were two minibuses with tinted windows, I could see a driver in black clothes and balaclava. In two more minibuses there were plainclothesmen in masks, with 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.”
Tatyana recalls that at some point she was distracted by a child, 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,” says Tatiana.
“Yesterday at about 10.30 pm, police received a message that unknown people are fighting in a courtyard of the house on Chervyakov Street in Minsk. The police found a 31-year-old citizen with bodily injuries, after which they called him an ambulance. The man was hospitalized. It is previously known that the conflict happened because of the white-red-white ribbons hanging in the yard. This fact is being investigated,” such a comment was posted in Minsk police Facebook page.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs states: “Some citizens, in order to express their personal political position hang, draw, stick non-state symbols on the facades of buildings, city structures, personal cars, etc. Other caring citizens are trying to restore order and prevent violations of the beautification rules. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has to deall with the consequences of such conflicts, sometimes very deplorable.”
*Changes Square is one of the most famous of the courtyard protest venues in Minsk. It has a mural of two DJs who achieved cult status before the election, when they were hired for a pro-Lukashenko gathering and played the perestroika-era track Changes instead. The song has become the unofficial anthem of the Belarusian uprising. The square has been “renamed” Changes Square and attracts musicians who give concerts there.