What we have found out so far
12 December 2020, 10:50 | КЕ, TUT.BY
On the evening of 12 November, 31-year-old Raman Bandarenka died in the intensive care unit of the Minsk City Emergency Care Hospital. The day before, unidentified people had arrived at the Square of Changes to cut off ribbons [decorating the square], after which an argument with local residents ensued – as a result, Raman was restrained and dragged into a minibus. It is not known who took him away and where to, and what happened to him after the incident in the square. The doctors at the hospital said that he had been diagnosed with such injuries that there had been almost no chance of survival. Until now, no criminal investigation has been opened into the death of Raman Bandarenka. TUT.BY tried to analyse all the evidence that has been collected so far: photos and videos, eyewitness accounts, as well as some expert conclusions.
Leaked conversation about the events in the Square of Changes. An investigation confirmed that the conversation was between Baskov and Shakuta
A recording of a phone conversation between two men discussing an incident that had apparently taken place in the Square of Changes on 11 November was published online, and it became an important lead in the case of Raman Bandarenka’s killing. After all this time, the authenticity of the recording has neither been officially confirmed nor refuted.
Back on 18 November, the source that published the audio recording (a Telegram channel banned in Belarus) stated that the conversation was between the famous sports official Dmitry Baskov and the decorated fighter Dmitry Shakuta. The idea that they were present at the Square of Changes during the incident was expressed and substantiated in the media earlier.
Readers themselves could compare the voices of the men on the recording with the voices of Baskov and Shakuta, but it was difficult to reliably assert who these voices belonged to. Moreover, Baskov and Shakuta themselves remained silent – both about their alleged presence at the Square of Changes and about the phone conversation recording.
Since the published audio contains important details that may prove significant for understanding what happened, the editorial staff of TUT.BY ordered a phonoscopic analysis of the recording. This type of audio recording analysis helps establish the verbatim content of a conversation, identify speakers by their voice and speech (if speech samples of a particular person are available for comparison), check the record for signs of editing, and find out whether the speech is spontaneous or staged.
The analysis was carried out by a Russian specialist, Ella Borgoyakova (via OOO GlavEkspert, Moscow). She is an expert specialising in forensics with a higher degree in law. She has 10 years’ experience in expert work which includes, among others, phonoscopic research, both in and out of court.
We publish the summary of the study while the original of the conclusion remains with the editorial office of TUT.BY (60 pages in total).
Based on the analysis, Borgoyakova arrived at the definite conclusion that the voices on the audio recording belong to Dmitry Shakuta and Dmitry Baskov. No signs of audio editing were found. Also, the conversation contains a large number of features that are specifically characteristic of a spontaneous, unprepared conversation.
When analysing the audio recording, the expert sought answers to four key questions.
Question number 1: do the voices of the men on the recording (the speakers were designated as Man 1 and Man 2) belong to Dmitry Shakuta and Dmitry Baskov? Three speech samples for both Shakuta and Baskov were provided for comparison. These were audio samples from videos of their interviews and comments to the media.
As a result of a comparative auditory, linguistic, and acoustic analysis of the recording of the conversation between the two men with the samples of Shakuta’s and Baskov’s voices, matches with a number of identifying individual speech patterns were uncovered.
The expert concluded that the aggregate of the identified features allows for a definite conclusion: the voice and the speech of Man 1 on the audio recording belong to Dmitry Shakuta, while those of Man 2 belong to Dmitry Baskov.
Additionally, in the speech of both men on the recording, the expert detected certain linguistic features that are specific to spontaneous speech, and not speech that was prepared beforehand.
The expert did not find any signs of editing or discontinuity in the recording within the sensitivity range of the equipment used. This conclusion was made based on the results of auditory, linguistic, and instrumental analysis.
We’d like to mention that in the process of criminal investigations, the official bodies can request a phonoscopic analysis, in which case a specialist acts as an expert and their study is called an expert examination. Audio recordings have evidentiary significance in court, and an expert is informed about criminal liability for knowingly supplying false conclusions.
In addition, audio recordings can be studied out of court, at the request of individuals. This can also be done by an expert, but in this case they act as a specialist (that is, an impartial person who has relevant special knowledge). The result of their work is called an investigation. The conclusions from an investigation can also be used in court, but with different procedures applied.
For the identification investigation (i.e. to find out whether the voices on the record under consideration belong to Dmitry Shakuta and Dmitry Baskov), we provided three samples per speaker for comparison with the recording.
For Shakuta: his interview with the “News Start Legend Team” YouTube channel (2017), a video of him from his personal Instagram account (2020), and a video with his statement on the “SB. Belarus Today” website (2020). For Baskov: his interview with the ONT channel (2017), an interview with the “Ice Hockey Brew” YouTube channel (2020), and a video with his statement on the “SB. Belarus Today” website (2020).
The details of the recorded conversation indicate that both speakers were well aware of the events [on the night when Raman was taken away from the Square of Changes]
From the context of the conversation, one can assume that it took place no later than 10 pm on 12 November (the moment when news broke of Raman Bandarenka’s death), that is, within a day after the night of the incident. It is likely that it took place on the morning of 12 November when, obviously, only few people knew the details of the incident.
The assumption about the time when the dialogue occurred is based on the fact that at the time of the conversation, the men did not know yet to which hospital the young man was admitted and what treatment the young man needed – and most importantly, they did not know his name. In addition, you can hear both interlocutors yawning (one did that especially often).
Some of the details indicate that the participants of the dialogue have information about the events that took place at the Square of Changes on 11 November. Firstly, the information that could have been provided by Raman Bandarenka himself that evening was mentioned.
“No one was knocked out, no one,” Shakuta, apparently, says that about Bandarenka on the recording. “Everyone was conscious, grabbed him by the arms and legs, he was resisting. They brought him into the bus, left (Boy?) with him. He even told us those fairy tales that he served in unit 32 [a special forces military unit] … In which company? He said: ‘In the 3rd company.’ And who was your commander? ‘Oh, I don’t remember.’ And who was your brigade commander? ‘Well, it was 7 years ago, I don’t remember.’ And that’s about it. That was it. We swooped in, grabbed him by the arms and legs, he didn’t want to get out and we transferred him to the f***ing OMON.”
“Unit 32” is, most likely, Military Unit 3214, where the special forces troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are based. Dmitry Shakuta is known to have worked there as a special training instructor (and possibly, he still does). Therefore, he could know both the people who served and used to serve there, which explains his interest in this topic.
Raman Bandarenka himself served there six years ago (he had been drafted in 2014). The young man was assigned to the 3rd company.
Another detail indicating that the participants of the conversation knew the details of that evening is the mention of a mobile phone.
After the story of how they put the young man into the car, Shakuta says: “Well, then, when we passed the phone on…”
What phone are they talking about? It makes no sense until you pay attention to several eyewitness videos. When three unidentified persons carried Bandarenka by his arms and legs into the bus, something glowing fell to the ground. It was clearly visible in the dark – this was, probably, the glow of a phone screen. Following the group of people carrying Bandarenka was a man who looked like Shakuta: it was he who bent down, picked up the thing and went away (in the video, this moment is at around 1:33).
Another thing that only those who were present at the square could know is that on that evening, unidentified “guests” tried to take away not two, but three people.
Earlier, it was announced in the media that the conflict at the Square of Changes had begun with a verbal argument. An unknown “guest” rushed at one young man, but the latter managed to escape. But Raman was grabbed by four men and taken to the minibus.
In the leaked conversation between Shakuta and Baskov, when they discussed who exactly ended up in hospital, not two but three possible victims were mentioned.
Baskov asks: “Who was there? So, it means, there were three of them. Which one, the one with the glasses or the one Siarhei pushed around?” Then Shakuta replies: “The one that got taken? No, no, no – another young guy with a phone, about the same age. […] The one Siarhei tussled with, he ran away.” Baskov replies: “Oh, well, that’s that then. No, I got it, I was standing next to him, I was talking to him, well, when we were having an argument, I understand who it is then.”
Let’s summarise: 1) “a young guy with a phone, about the same age” – Bandarenka; 2) “the one Siarhei tussled with” and “ran away” – the runaway guy; 3) “the one with glasses” – a person who has not been mentioned earlier.
Eyewitnesses of the events of 11 November confirmed the following during a conversation with TUT.BY: there was a third person who had not been previously mentioned in the media. According to them, during the scuffle, the “guests” caught him and put him in a tight grip. But after that, local residents convinced them to release him and he went home. Eyewitnesses say that since everything ended well with this man, they did not pay too much attention to the fact that he was there. However, few knew about him.
Where exactly and how was Raman Bandarenka fatally injured? It is still shrouded in mystery
It remains unclear exactly where and under what circumstances Raman Bandarenka received the injuries that led to his death.
In our previous material, based on the information we have received from eyewitnesses, we were able to conclude that at least four unidentified persons participated in his detention.
The first one, the man who looks like Shakuta (in one of the pictures above), grabbed Raman Bandarenka from the back while moving, knocked him down and shouted: “Down on the f***ing ground!” Then, another person joined the process of subduing Raman. There was a reply of “Leave me alone” (apparently, from Raman), after which the first man either aimed at or hit the victim with his fist. Two other unidentified persons approached and helped to completely subdue the young man.
As a result, Bandarenka was grabbed by his arms and legs and three people carried him away while the fourth man who looks like Shakuta followed them.
Judging by the video, the latter has hardly even touched Raman since his detention in the square. All the way to the car, Bandarenka is seen resisting in the hands of the men who are carrying him.
In the leaked conversation, Shakuta repeats more than once something about how “we did not knock him out,” “was conscious, held by the arms and legs, he was resisting – they brought him into the bus.” Then, there is the following quote:
“We swooped in, grabbed him by the arms and legs, he didn’t want to get out and we gave him to the f***ing OMON. […] Well, then, when we handed the phone over, Tsyazh (?) said he saw that they were shining a flashlight at him, rejuvenating him. Well, how could they have transferred him f***ing unconscious to a f***ing police station?”
A strange phrase is particularly notable, apparently about Raman Bandarenka in the bus: “were shining a flashlight at him, rejuvenating him”. A glossary of jargon and quotes from fiction books hint that the phrase “to rejuvenate” is used as a synonym for “to beat [to a pulp]”.
It is unknown whether the OMON riot policemen were present at the scene as Shakuta mentions on the recording or not (we will talk about the arrival of police officers later). And if they were, it is known what part they played in these events.
Here is another piece of Baskov and Shakuta’s discussion of Raman Bandarenka’s injuries on the leaked recording:
“What the f**k could they have done to him that he was so bad?”
“Well, I don’t know… Anything, you know, they might have hit him in the stomach with a f***ing boot, and then there is a ruptured spleen. I don’t know, maybe something else.”
“No, I could understand a ruptured spleen. But this is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He must have been kicked while lying on the bus floor.”
“Oh well. You see, the situation is as you saw it yourself: we, I mean, I ran up to him, knocked him down. I mean, I did not f***ing knock him out.”
“Yeah, yeah, sure.”
“Well, what’s the problem? Grabbed him by the arms and legs, he was resisting and so we dragged him the f**k away. TBI means that a person is unconscious, he would have been like a rag, damn it.”
“Yeah, I get it.”
“He would have been knocked out.”
And then, there is another phrase when Baskov and Shakuta discuss how to find out about Raman’s condition.
“How do we find out? I would have called there, at least to find out what condition he is in.”
“Well, you can probably find out from them – it was they who handed him over, wherever it was. To the Tsentralny station or to any other police station.”
In addition, on 21 November, another conversation between the two men about the events in the Square of Changes appeared on the Internet. After a phonoscopic examination of this recording, the expert also came to the conclusion that the voices on it belong to Shakuta and Baskov. During the conversation, Shakuta said the following:
“The commander called, he has already gone to another commander, the deputy minister or something. Well, the guys from the OMON are great fellows, they want to shift some s**t on us. I mean, I’ve sent this video where I knocked him down and, well, I showed it to the commander and he said: ‘You did not… you know, do it to him?’ Well, something like that. I said: ‘I knocked him down, two others came up,’ well, I said that I worked on him. He said: ‘Well, I see.’ They took him by the arms and legs, no one beat him, they did not knock him out, I mean, he was conscious, they brought him to our bus. Left one man on guard.”
It is uncertain when the dialogue took place. The source that published the audio recording (the Telegram channel banned in Belarus) did not mention this.
There is another detail that caught our readers’ attention. Just before Bandarenka was loaded into the minibus that was parked on the corner of Kakhouskaya Street, Raman could have hit his feet or his head hard.
When the three men carried Bandarenka to the road, one of them stepped away, and at that moment Raman hit the ground with a smash. The video show that moment at around 0:40.
To study this moment, we brightened the video and zoomed in on the picture. The same moment is at around 0:13 in this second video.
After that, the man who had stepped away returned, and a man resembling Shakuta (who kept his distance all the way to the car) came as well. All four of them bent down and examined something, but after a couple of moments a car drove past, and it looks as if everyone went inside [the bus], except for a person resembling Shakuta – he walked away. All this happened between 22:15 and 22:30.
It is impossible to see Bandarenka in detail and whether he moved after that episode due to the poor quality of the video.
How did the unidentified “guests” arrive and leave?
A number of interesting details were discovered by our colleagues from Mediazona.
First, what happened before and after the events with Bandarenka. As Mediazona discovered from camera recordings, at about 21:48 (half an hour before the events with Bandarenka) four minibuses were seen at 62 Charviakova: a dark-coloured one followed by three light-coloured ones (one of them looked like the one into which Raman was later carried). Five minutes later, unidentified people began to turn up in the square, including a man resembling Shakuta. On their way, the “guests” paid attention to the surveillance cameras.
At 21:55, some of them went to the playground, where they began to cut the ribbons off the fence. And in the next 20 minutes while they were doing this, two more joined them. During all this time, other visitors were walking along the perimeter of the courtyard. The “guests” had masks on their faces.
When the scuffle began in the Square of Changes (according to TUT.BY, between 22:15 and 22:20), three people came running from the side.
At that time, cameras nearby recorded an unknown “guest” running out of the courtyard and chasing another person (apparently, the guy who eventually escaped). The “guest” disappeared towards Slutskaya Street.
Almost simultaneously with the scuffle, a light-coloured minibus drove along Kakhouskaya Street from Charviakova’s side, turned around, and drove towards the three unidentified persons who were carrying Bandarenka, with the fourth (presumably Shakuta) following.
Secondly, it is also important to uncover the movements of the minibus into which Raman Bandarenka was loaded. Judging by [street] camera recordings, it didn’t drive away immediately.
Based on the video, Mediazona has clarified: after Raman was loaded, at about 22:19, the bus was still on Kakhouskaya Street. At 22:27, a heavy-built man in a hat with a pom-pom and a purse on a shoulder strap went in through a side door. At 22:28, a woman approached the bus; she spoke to someone through the window on the side of the front passenger seat, then the side door opened a little – and then the woman left. (The man mentioned earlier is in the left photo below, and the woman in the right one).
At 22:35, the same man in the hat with a pom-pom got out of the minibus, but at 22:40 he returned. Then, the bus drove off in the direction of Charviakova, but three minutes later it came back. Two people got out, including the man in the hat with a pom-pom, and they walked towards the Square of Changes. This was at 22:43.
Whether Raman Bandarenka was inside at that time is unknown.
The minibus left at 22:55, when all the ribbons had been removed from the fence, sums up Mediazona. In the same minute, two light-coloured minibuses appeared on the recordings from different cameras: they were driving along Charviakova towards Vera Slutskaya Street. The second bus resembled the one into which Bandarenka had been carried. By the way, that bus slowed down for some reason and seemed to try to park, but then it continued to move. A minute later, a dark minibus and another light-coloured one followed.
The number plates of these minibuses are still unknown to TUT.BY.
What did the police do?
The police were noticed in the area at about 22:33, at least ten minutes after Bandarenka was loaded into an unidentified minibus. We can conclude that based on the analysis of the recordings from the cameras collected by TUT.BY, the same data was provided by Mediazona in their publication.
At first it was a police SUV, Mediazona notes: it arrived from Kakhouskaya Street, passed nose to nose with the light-coloured minibus into which Bandarenka had been carried, and then crossed the courtyard without stopping – and drove off along Arshanskaya Street.
There are two more videos that TUT.BY has uncovered. In the first one, judging by the timestamps on the footage, the police SUV drove by at around 22:30. The second video shows: a minute later, from the side where the police car drove off to, two security officers show up (in helmets and vests, in the way that officers of the Security Department arrive for emergency calls), and then two more – one of them has a machine gun. The men walk in both directions for about three minutes, and then they disappear from sight.
The police were not seen taking anyone away (for example, the participants of the “fight” mentioned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to which they were allegedly summoned at 22:30).
Mediazona confirms that almost at the same time, when the police SUV was passing by, two police vehicles arrived from the side of Arshanskaya Street (22:33). Two people in uniform got out, put on helmets and walked towards the square (probably, they are the ones we see in the recording above).
A photo of the same two cars, which passed 10 minutes after the detention of Raman Bandarenka by unidentified people, also appeared in the Telegram channel @motolkohelp.
The fact that four policemen in helmets and vests stayed in the square for about three minutes is also confirmed by Mediazona after their analysis of the video. Thus, it can be assumed that they left at about 22:36.
According to one of the witnesses whose words were quoted by Radio Svaboda, even after the police arrived, the “guests” continued their “work” in the yard. And only closer to 23:00, after a group selfie against the background of a painted-over mural, they left in minibuses.
We remind that Minsk police very briefly stated in their official press release on 12 November that on that evening at 22:30, they received a message about people fighting in the courtyard on Charviakova Street. And the policemen who arrived allegedly found a 31-year-old man with bodily injuries, and “subsequently called an ambulance for him”.
However, almost immediately, documents appeared online (albeit without a signature and stamp) which indicated that the patient was brought in not from the street but from the Tsentralny police station. This was previously confirmed in a conversation with TUT.BY by the doctors of the Minsk City Emergency Care Hospital. In addition, local residents said that after the incident, they called the police station to find out what happened to Raman. They were allegedly told that he had been at the station, but he started feeling bad – and the doctors took him to the emergency care hospital.
We want to add that on 13 November, the Investigative Committee already stated the following in its press release:
“The police received a report that a fight broke out between aggressive local residents who were hanging ribbons and those removing them in the courtyard of a house on Charviakova Street in Minsk. The police officers who arrived at the square found a man with bodily injuries and signs of alcohol intoxication. This man was taken to the Tsentralny police station for clarification of the circumstances of the incident. Due to his deteriorating condition, law enforcement officers called him an ambulance. He was examined by ambulance personnel, after which he was hospitalised.”
Mediazona also drew attention to the fact that the ambulance was seen in the area only at 22:58 (about 40 minutes after the scuffle). It drove along Charviakova Street from the side of Vera Slutskaya Street, turned onto Kakhouskaya Street and drove on towards the Kiev cinema without turning to the Square of Changes.
“Guests” of the Square of Changes on the evening of 11 November: so were Shakuta and Baskov there or not?
The analysis of the published conversation between Baskov and Shakuta, eyewitnesses statements and our previous analysis of the materials (what the “guests” looked like, where they were seen before) allows us to say with a high degree of probability: Baskov and Shakuta were in the square.
But we want to note that judging by the video and the statements of eyewitnesses with whom we were able to communicate, a person resembling Shakuta definitely took part in the scuffle in the Square of Changes.
And the man resembling Baskov did not. During the scuffle, he only appears in the frame from time to time. One eyewitness from the Square of Changes who identified the “famous official” told Radio Svaboda: the “guest” cut off ribbons, told local residents to go back home and explained that “he was cleaning the city of garbage.”
There are a few more details that we did not mention before. First, the @kyky_org Telegram channel drew attention to old photos with Dmitry Baskov where he was often seen in a blue quilted vest (here, for example, in a TUT.BY photo from 2019).
Baskov was personally identified wearing the same vest by residents during his high-profile visit with the “guests” to the Megapolis residential complex (on 18 October). And the same vest was on the person from the Square of Changes who resembled Baskov to the witnesses also by various other features.
In addition, we noticed unusual black sneakers with many curly light inserts among Baskov’s gear. He appeared in them once before, in Brest, during negotiations with opponents of the battery plant (June 2020), later – in Megapolis (18 October), where unknown guests went to cut off ribbons, and as a result started a scuffle with local residents. And, finally, Dmitry Baskov was wearing the same sneakers at the largest pro-government motor rally (on 8 November).
Who else was at the Square of Changes that evening and what did they do?
Firstly, there was an unidentified man with whom the scuffle began. Several eyewitnesses told TUT.BY about him in more detail.
According to them, the “guest” cut off ribbons and behaved quite arrogantly. He had on a mask and a hood, wore a black jacket and jeans with cuffs. Blue eyes, blonde hair and eyebrows.
An extremely similar person was seen on 2 November in Novaya Baravaya – guarded by riot police with weapons, he was cutting off ribbons along with other “guests”. Several residents of this complex, when asked by TUT.BY, said that they recognised the person who had paid them a visit as the one who initiated the conflict in the Square of Changes: the same clothes, facial features and behaviour (plus, he also argued with local residents and that was recorded).
One of the eyewitnesses in a conversation with TUT.BY even called him “the most inadequate” of all the guests: “He spoke very cockily and provoked others. He said that if we wanted, we could call him ‘pro-government’. He talked a lot: that he was not a Belarusian, but his grandmother was killed by people with white-red-white flags; that he had nothing to do with the forces, but he had the right to remove the ribbons the same way we hang them.”
It turns out that the scuffle began with the same person in the Square of Changes on 11 November.
According to eyewitnesses, initially a man in a khaki jacket and with a pizza box in his hands (the witnesses say that might have been a resident of the district, let’s call him Man A) stood by the fence and calmly talked to the “guests” who were cutting off ribbons. Raman Bandarenka stood next to this Man A – and at some point, Raman said something like “Well, that’s it, finish it – we have talked and that’ll do.” Eyewitnesses note that there was absolutely no trace of aggression in the conversation of Man A with the “guests”, as well as in what Raman said.
But one of the “guests” suddenly reacted sharply with the words “Why are you so cocky, eh?” The witnesses also remembered the phrase “Are you threatening me?” coming from him. And the “guest” went to the side where Raman was standing, but in the end he started to detain not him but another man standing next to Raman (let’s call him Man B). An unknown “guest” hit Man B in the chest with both hands, who backed away from the blow and began to fall. The “guest” didn’t stop, started wringing his hands and pushed Man B into a metal horizontal bar. There, Man B lost his phone – but he quickly picked it up and ran away. (Here is a video of that moment.)
Our interlocutors discuss: maybe the “guest” misheard who was the one who made the remark. Or, out of anger, he attacked the one who first came to hand. “It was that ‘guest’ who started the whole mess. He started it all for nothing,” witnesses say.
Bottom line: the “guest” ran after Man B, but couldn’t catch him. A man similar to Shakuta began to subdue Raman Bandarenka, then three more helped him.
Unfortunately, there is no video evidence of what was happening all that time with Man A, who initially talked calmly about something with the “guests”, even before the start of the scuffle. But after the arrest of Raman, that Man A was held in a tight grip by the “guests”, eyewitnesses recall. And only after the persuasion of an unfamiliar girl, the “guests” let him go home.
Eyewitnesses assume that Man A wasn’t pursued during the scuffle, but somehow he just got under hand, was gripped and would have gotten detained. But since everything ended up relatively calmly for that person, the locals didn’t attach any importance to this episode and didn’t mention it to the journalists earlier.
Whether or not glasses were on that person’s face is not known for sure.
But there was a snapshot of Man A. He stands near the swing – there, according to eyewitnesses, Bandarenka also stood. It might be Raman near the swing in that shot, and this is the last photo of him.
There is one more detail about the identity of the “guest” who started the scuffle: in a conversation with Baskov, Shakuta called him Siarhei (quote: “The one Siarhei tussled with ran away”).
There have been many versions circulating online regarding that man’s identity. We’ve tried to check the two most common ones, but due to inconsistencies they seem unconvincing to us and even false. We will briefly mention them here without a detailed analysis.
The first one is that he might be a security forces officer (the head of a special forces unit) who was in Novaya Baravaya during the arrests on 25 October. The second one is that he was a friend of Dmitry Baskov from an August video where they were drinking together in a car (the man is the world champion in karate). We know the names of these people, but we don’t mention them here since the collected materials refute these versions rather than somehow confirming them.
Secondly, the identities of three more “guests” remain unknown. They helped a man who looked like Shakuta detain Raman Bandarenka and carry him into the car.
We have already provided screenshots with these people present and a detailed description of their clothes. There is no new significant information on this issue.
Thirdly, at least four women were seen among the “guests”. Moreover, three of them, judging by our analysis (we will mention it later), periodically went to other courtyards – also to cut off ribbons.
One of the women, according to eyewitnesses, was wearing a mask and a red hoodie, with the black visor of a cap sticking out from under the hood. She was wearing a brown jacket with cropped straight-cut jeans and black boots. One eyewitness recalls her answering the locals about the purpose of the visit: “The meaning was something like ‘we are cleaning the city of ribbons, we want to cleanse Belarus of people like you’. What did she mean? She said that they are not indifferent, they don’t want the country to be ruined, that they are for the current government. And we are believed to be… so to speak, unwanted.”
Another eyewitness also remembered this woman: “She was very talkative, her speech was well-delivered.”
We discovered that this lady “guest” had cut ribbons off more than once in the Megapolis residential complex. On 18 October, she was with a group of people, among whom Dmitry Baskov was identified by face. She also argued a lot with people.
The second female “guest” in the square was in a slightly elongated dark jacket (on close inspection, the fabric had a camouflage pattern), light velvet pants and light sneakers, and a hood over her head. The woman was seen cutting off ribbons in other courtyards, such as in Megapolis on 24 October and on the night of 11-12 November.
We noticed one episode with this woman while watching the recordings from the Square of Changes: when Bandarenka was subdued on the ground, she wasn’t filming that, but rather the eyewitnesses around. (She can be seen in this video from the 0:23 mark.)
The third woman got less attention, but a photo of her was taken. She wore an almost knee-length green jacket, dark jeans, and shiny black shoes.
The picture shows the woman on the right.
We noticed the fourth woman while viewing pictures and photos from the eyewitnesses. She was wearing a green, elongated jacket as well. But we can definitely distinguish her from the previous “guest” by a number of features: dark straight-cut pants and light grey shoes (the previous lady was wearing tight jeans and black shiny boots).
It wasn’t the first time that fourth “guest” was in the courtyards: we noticed her on recordings from Megapolis on 24 October and Novaya Baravaya on 2 November.
Fourthly, in the leaked conversation Shakuta uses a word that might be the nickname of one of the participants in the scuffle in the Square of Changes – Boy.
“No one was knocked out, no one,” Shakuta says on the recording. “Everyone was conscious, he was resisting, so they brought him into the bus by the arms and legs, left Boy (?) with him.”
The word sounds clear enough. If this is a nickname, then, judging by the context, it was he who Raman was passed on to in the minibus. Shakuta also said in the second of two leaked conversations with Baskov that the young man [Raman] was brought into the bus and left under the supervision of “someone”.
Fifthly, another nickname was used in the conversation – Tsyazh. And we have a version of who this person might be.
The conversation mentions a certain Tsyazh when Shakuta tells how Raman Bandarenka was brought into the bus.
“Later, when we gave his phone back, Tsyazh said he saw them shining a flashlight on him and rejuvenating [i.e. beating] him. Well, how could they transfer him f***ing unconscious to the f***ing police station?”
People from the sports milieu know Tsyazh as Yauheny Tsimanouski, a heavyweight boxer (although the nickname is relatively common among boxers in this category, our interlocutors noted). He first served in Military Unit 3214, then in the Special Rapid Response Unit, where he was trained by Dmitry Shakuta. Tsimanouski also frequented Shakuta’s club, Shock, our sources say.
Could he have been in the Square of Changes on 11 November? This cannot be stated with confidence; Yauheny didn’t respond to requests from journalists.
However, we have already noticed a heavy-built man in a hat with a pom-pom and a purse on a shoulder strap in the [street] camera recordings. According to the analysis by Mediazona, this man got in and out of the bus into which Bandarenka had been brought.
In addition, you can see in one of the TUT.BY videos: when Raman was being subdued in the courtyard, that stranger came out from the opposite side of the yard, approached a female eyewitness and lowered her phone, which she was using to film what was happening.
The man in the light hat with a pom-pom was wearing a blue jacket, black pants, light-coloured shoes and a purse with a thin shoulder strap. A hood was on his head.
Why compare the “guests” of the Square of Changes with those who went to other courtyards? Matches are not accidental
Initially, a clue to understanding who was in the Square of Changes on 11 November was the comparison with the “guests” in the Megapolis residential complex on 18 October.
Ribbons were cut off there too, and disputes happened with local residents who came out to ask what was happening – and there was also a scuffle, which ended with the arrival of the police. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Among the “guests” (even without a mask) Dmitry Baskov was identified by face, and next to him by appearance and clothes – Dmitry Shakuta. Later, the Tribune identified Pavel Volchek, the hockey player, among the men, and his wife Jeanette as the woman next to him. There were also suggestions proposed online regarding the identity of another young man who looked like Shakuta’s student, Aleh Klyushau (TUT.BY has collected and studied data on this, and we can briefly state that this suggestion cannot be excluded).
Another female “guest” reminded the locals of the President’s press secretary, Natallia Eismant. It’s difficult to say for certain, but there was a discussion of similar visits of “guests” to the courtyards on the recording of another “leaked” conversation (the voices belong to Eismant and Baskov, which was confirmed by another phonoscopic study). And the names of some of those identified on 18 October in Megapolis were also mentioned.
Why are we listing these matches? Firstly, at least three guests from the Square of Changes on 11 November and from Megapolis on 18 October (identified as Baskov, Shakuta and a girl in a brown jacket with a red hoodie) coincided.
Secondly, we have at our disposal a previously unpublished video of what happened in Megapolis on 18 October And it clearly shows: it was the “guests” who, during the disputes with the local residents, provoked the scuffle themselves, twisted arms, beat and threw people to the ground.
By the way, local residents themselves called the police to the place. At least three groups of security officials came, including OMON riot police with shotguns, and even then-Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Aliaksandr Barsukou himself. As eyewitnesses say, in the end everyone dispersed, there were no detentions (the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed this) and the guests quietly left in dark and light-coloured minibuses.
Thirdly, we compared the “guests” in Megapolis on 18 October with the members of the groups who went there on 24 October and on the night of 11-12 November. We found many matches. Then, the matches were repeated when those people were compared with the “guests” of Novaya Baravaya on 2 November and finally with the “guests” of the Square of Changes on 11 November.
Recall that a group of unidentified people who cut off ribbons in Novaya Baravaya on 2 November acted even under the protection of OMON riot police with shotguns.
To summarise: based on video and photo evidence, we have studied the appearance of “guests” from at least five different groups of people who, at different times, visited three different residential complexes in Minsk (five visits in total). The appearances of a total of 54 people have been studied. And then, we compared the people from different events to find out whether they are the same people.
At least eight of the same people appear in different locations. Another 25 people are difficult to compare with each other: in some cases, the features and clothes of people don’t stand out, sometimes the quality of the materials doesn’t allow us to draw parallels, and someone may have been on a “visit” once.
We would also like to add that we have studied the “guests” of other courtyards (for example, groups from the story by STV about the so-called anti-vandals) – but we haven’t found matches with the “visitors” of the above-named courtyards. Perhaps this is due to the fact that some groups work separately from each other.