Belarus’s Investigative Committee has ruled out launching a probe into the killing of 34-year-old Alyaksandr Taraykouski, who was shot by riot police in Minsk in August 2020, becoming the first fatality in a postelection crackdown and a rallying cry for the protest movement.
Taraykouski died on August 10 in protests against the results of a presidential election a day earlier that claimed incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka was the winner in a landslide. Opposition figures and many Belarusians immediately questioned the results, saying the vote was rigged.
The Investigative Committee said in a statement on February 19 that Taraykouski was “very drunk” and “provoked” riot police to use “nonlethal weapons” against him.
“Due to the confluence of a number of tragic circumstances, one of the wounds turned out to be penetrating, causing Taraykouski’s death at the site,” the statement said.
WATCH: Video Of Belarusian Protester Dying Contradicts Official Claims
Initially, officials said Taraykouski was killed by an improvised explosive device he was trying to throw at riot police. However, graphic footage of his death appeared to contradict official claims.
The site of Taraykouski’s death near the Pushkin subway station in Minsk turned into a makeshift memorial where protesters gathered regularly for some time, bringing flowers and inscribing “We Will Not Forget” on the sidewalk.
Several protesters have been killed and thousands of people arrested during the ongoing demonstrations.
There have also been credible reports of torture during a widening security crackdown.
Most of the country’s opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to leave the country, including opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who says she won the presidential poll.
The United States, the European Union, and several other countries have refused to acknowledge the election results and Lukashenka as the country’s leader.