“This is hypocrisy,” said his relatives
13 January 2021, 22:45 | TUT.BY
On the evening of 13 January, the government issued a statement regarding the plans to host the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk. The authorities have promised that they will organize it according to the highest standards. As for the allegations against the head of the Belarus Ice Hockey Federation, Dmitry Baskov, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) upper management was promised to be able to get familiar with the results of the Prosecutor General’s Office’s preliminary investigation into Raman Bandarenka’s death. Raman’s family is outraged because his family members, even his own mother, has so far been denied access to the materials of the case.
The Belarusian Organizing Committee for the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship (published on the website of the Council of Ministers) said in a statement that at a recent meeting with the head of the IIHF, Rene Fasel, opinions on “certain aspects of the situation in the country” were voiced.
Dmitry Baskov, the head of the Belarus Ice Hockey Federation who had been identified among the participants of the events in the Square of Changes on 11 November last year, was also mentioned. In that very square, the “visitors” engaged in removing white and red ribbons had kidnapped 31-year-old Raman Bandarenka. Later, Raman’s family found him in the hospital. A day later, he died from serious injuries in his hospital bed without ever regaining consciousness.
“As to the claims brought against the chairman of the Belarus Ice Hockey Federation, Dmitry Baskov, the Belarusian side goes by the principle of presumption of innocence as a basic legal postulate. However, as a gesture of goodwill, it is ready to organize a meeting between the IIHF Disciplinary Committee and the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus [Andrei Shved] for the purpose of familiarization with the results of the verification procedures carried out as part of the preliminary investigation,” said the Belarusian organizing committee in a statement.
The news shocked Bandarenka’s family. Since 13 November, they have been pushing for a criminal case to be opened over the young man’s death. But the Prosecutor General’s Office has only been engaging in a preliminary investigation so far. Raman’s mother does not have the status of the victim, and therefore she cannot even get familiar with the materials of the preliminary investigation – in contrast to the sports officials who have now been given such a promise.
At the moment, Raman’s relatives do not know whether there are any suspects in his death, or even whether the forensic examination has been completed and what its results are, including the official cause of his death.
“We consider this statement to be stunning hypocrisy. Raman Bandarenka’s mother, over the course of two months of the case investigation, has repeatedly received refusals from the Prosecutor General’s Office to our requests to provide any information about the progress of the preliminary investigation (moreover, all letters with answers go under the same outgoing number, 1800-38-2020). As a result, we are sending an open and public request (petition) to the representatives of the IIHF Disciplinary Committee to invite Alena Bandarenka and her lawyer to get familiar with the materials of the case investigation. Indeed, for Alena, the use of such a ‘gesture of goodwill’ is the only chance to find out why her only son has died,” said the Bandarenka family’s lawyer, Inessa Alenskaya.
The family’s representative added that on 21 December, the family received another refusal from the Prosecutor General’s Office to provide information on the progress of the proceedings. Their reply was that the investigation was still under way. And since Raman’s mother and her lawyer are not direct participants in the investigative process, they “are not entitled to receive any information obtained during the proceedings”.
Moreover, Alena Bandarenka was not even notified about the extension of the case verification period, the lawyer clarified.
Raman’s cousin, Volha Kucharenka, has recently shared on her Instagram what she heard about the proceedings.
“So far, there are no grounds for initiating a criminal case. That is the answer of the Prosecutor General’s Office. What they have done is put together a big profile on Raman. They know which kindergarten and school he went to, what kind of relationships he had with people, whether anyone had ever seen him drunk, rowdy, or unkind, what bad habits he had, what his favorite alcoholic drink was, and whether his relatives knew his gadgets’ passwords. They have a big team working on it, from what they say. The Prosecutor General’s Office gave a bunch of refusals to our requests and petitions. The reason is that there is no criminal case, so my mother does not have the victim status. So she is not able to get familiar with any details. The Prosecutor General’s Office interviewed witnesses of Raman’s kidnapping. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him…” read the post.
The police stance on the CTV story featuring the wiretapping of Bandarenka’s mother – no violations
By the way, in early January, the Bandarenka family received a response from the Central District Department of Internal Affairs to their statement about the wiretapping of Raman’s mother’s telephone conversations.
Let us remind you that on 25 November, the CTV channel aired a story by Ryhor Azaronak, who had recently been awarded a medal “For Courage” by Lukashenko. The story featured Alena Bandarenka’s telephone conversations. The next day, the woman went to the police with a statement, asking to open a criminal case for violating the secrecy of her telephone conversations as well as for collecting or disclosing information about her private life. She also asked to find out who had conducted the wiretap and with whose permission, as well as who had handed it over to Azaronak and on what basis. She also asked to bring the host of the show and other unknown individuals involved to justice.
“Not only am I being wiretapped, but I am also recorded and the recordings are given to the state media. (…) These are personal calls that no one has had any consent to wiretap. They are presented in an unfavorable way and completely taken out of context,” said Raman’s family members. The police answered that they will conduct an investigation.
“No violations of the legislation were established in the actions of Ryhor Azaronak or any other individuals,” replied the Central Department of Internal Affairs on 28 December. For some reason, the application was responded to as though it were an ordinary citizens’ application (although this is a completely different status of filing).
The document signed by the head of the police department, Artur Shakhlai, states that according to Article 39 of the “Law on Mass Media”, a journalist and the media source itself are not obliged to identify the source of information, nor are they allowed to disclose the source’s identity without the consent of that person. The police also cite Article 40, which states that the media can make public recordings obtained without the consent of a person if it “does not violate constitutional rights and individual freedoms and is necessary to protect the public interest”.
Finally, the police department refers to some commentary on Article 179 of the Criminal Code, according to which “the dissemination of the information constituting a personal or family secret is lawful in cases when the interests of national security, public order, protection of morality, public health, and rights and freedoms of others dictate the need for state authorities to invade into the area of private life within the limits established by law”.
What exactly was the “need for the state authorities to invade” Bandarenka’s mother’s private life remains unclear.