Bondarenko, who allegedly hit his head on the ground in the attack, was later arrested and taken in a van, and taken into police custody. When his family finally found him, he was in a coma in a city hospital, where he died of brain damage on Thursday.
The government has washed its hands of the incident, saying Bondarenko’s injuries were sustained in a street brawl between the government and opposition supporters.
His family are convinced that he was beaten in detention after his arrest, with a relative saying that “everything that happened to him happened after the square”.
“I am filming this video so that more people know what is happening in this country, that people are absolutely defenseless,” said Olga Kuchurenko, a relative, in a video posted by Radio Svoboda.
Belarus has been rocked by the biggest protests in its history after Lukashenko claimed victory in the August elections marred by widespread electoral fraud.The death is the latest trauma suffered by the Belarusian protest movement, which has seen thousands of people beaten and tortured in police stations, the political opposition imprisoned and forced to flee the country, and, more recently, donations to victims seized by the government.
Protests took place Thursday and Friday, with thousands of people attending a vigil in the square on Thursday evening, leaving flowers and candles lit in memory of Bondarenko. “Tribunal! The crowds chanted, calling for justice.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a former presidential candidate now living outside Belarus, wrote on Telegram: “Roman Bondarenko was killed by accomplices of the regime. He was an innocent victim of an inhumane system that views people’s lives as the cost of power. We all understand that any peaceful person could have found themselves in their place.
European diplomats have also expressed concern over Bondarenko’s death. Linas Linkevičius, Lithuanian Foreign Minister, wrote that he was “shocked” by “the regime’s astonishing cynicism and cruelty”.
“This is a scandalous and shameful result of the actions of the Belarusian authorities who not only directly and violently suppressed their own population, but also created an environment in which such violent and anarchic acts can take place” , said an EU spokesperson. , threatening to impose additional sanctions against the government.
Last week the EU announced sanctions, including a travel ban and an asset freeze, against Lukashenko, his son Viktor and 13 other officials responsible for “the violent crackdown and intimidation of peaceful protesters”.
The Belarusian parliament on Friday discussed a new measure vis-à-vis opposition supporters who may see those responsible for extremism or “harming the national interest” deprived of their citizenship.