Roman Bondarenko, tragic hero of the Belarusian opposition

Audio 03:32

Protesters hold a sign with the photo of Roman Bondarenko during a rally in his honor in Minsk, Belarus, November 20, 2020. AFP - STRINGER

By: Anastasia Becchio

8 min

His death caused a wave of emotion far beyond Belarus.

Roman Bondanrenko, 31, was killed last week in Minsk.

This young painter who took part in the protest movement that has shaken the country since the controversial re-election of Alexander Lukashenko on August 9, was violently attacked in his neighborhood by defenders of the regime.

Arrested and then taken to the station, he was finally hospitalized in serious condition before dying a few hours later.


I'm going out


These are the last words written by Roman Bondarenko on his Telegram messenger, before leaving his home to go to the nearby Place des Changes, where he will be molested by hooded men.

In the hours following the news of his disappearance, thousands of people came to lay flowers and light candles.

Sergiy Mé Lianets composed a poem, hung on this improvised memorial, which will end up being destroyed by order of the authorities: “ 

It is an enormous misfortune which befell us.

Because it was not a stranger.

He was our neighbor, a man who was not afraid to go out.

While we all know that as soon as we make the decision to go out, we may not come back.

When I heard of his death, it was like a blow to the head.

I told myself that I couldn't suffer in silence or cry, but that I had to speak out.

I wrote this poem where Romane talks with her mother and where he asks her forgiveness for not having had time to say goodbye to her. 


At 31, Roman Bondarenko was the manager of a store, a position he held while waiting to be able to live from his art.

This architecture graduate, who had done his military service in the Special Forces, had a passion for painting.

On the Place des Changements, he organized drawing sessions with the neighborhood children.

He also participated in the protection of a mural representing two DJs and white-red-white ribbons hanging on the gates.

It was during yet another operation to clean up these symbols of protest by hooded men, that Roman was assaulted.

Very affected, his cousin Olga posted a video on the Internet: “ 

I am shooting this video so that a lot of people know what is happening in this country, that they know that people are absolutely defenseless.

I really hope that a judicial inquiry will be opened.

I really hope that justice will triumph and that those who did this to him will be punished according to the law.


In videos shot by witnesses, hooded men attack Roman, who had not shown any sign of aggression, before boarding him in a mini van with tinted windows.

Belarusian media have identified two of the attackers.

The details of political scientist Valéri Karabalevitch: “ 

It is about a certain Baskov, who is none other than the president of the Belarusian hockey federation and another sportsman, Shakouta, world champion of Thai boxing and kickboxing.

These are people who are not part of the police, but they act under their control and with their help.

They come to make the law in the courtyards of buildings, where they remove the white-red-white flags, they clean up the graffiti hostile to power.

All those who resist them, they rape them and take them to the police station, as happened with Romane Bondarenko.


The Belarusian President spoke on the matter, calling for all the light to be shed.

But very few people believe that justice will be served.

Valéri Karabalevich: “ 

From the beginning, President Lukashenko and the Investigation Committee started to lie, saying that he was drunk, when it was proved that he was not alcoholic.

The power does not intend to complete the investigation and this means that the government is giving carte blanche to violence against protesters and even killings. 


Thursday evening, the journalist of the website, Katerina Borissevich, who published medical information which refuted the thesis of alcoholism, and a doctor from the hospital where Roman was admitted, in a coma, were arrested. .

Accused of disclosing medical confidentiality, they face up to three years in prison.


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  • Belarus

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