27 November 2020, 15:31
Press secretary of Belarusian Orthodox Church who condemned dismantling memorial to late activist Bondarenko in Minsk resigns
Minsk, November 27, Interfax - Archpriest Sergy Lepin, press secretary of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, who earlier condemned the dismantling of the memorial to civil activist Roman Bondarenko and was issued a warning for that by the Prosecutor General's Office, has resigned.
"I have resigned. I thank everyone for cooperation. And forgive me if anything is wrong," Lepin told Interfax on Friday. He has not commented on the reason for his resignation.
According to earlier reports, Lepin condemned the dismantling of the memorials to Bondarenko on November 15.
On November 18, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko quoted him at a meeting on vital foreign policy issues and ordered the head of the presidential administration and the prosecutor general to get to the bottom of the situation. The next day, the Prosecutor General's Office issued official warnings to Lepin and Yury Kosobutsky, vicar general of the Minsk and Mogilyov Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus, who had also criticized the authorities' actions.
Bondarenko, 31, died as a result of a conflict in a Minsk neighborhood. Late on November 11, he walked out of his apartment block and saw unidentified masked individuals trying to remove white-red-white ribbons from a fence. A scuffle broke out. Bondarenko was pushed hard by the masked men and hit his head. He later died in hospital.
The Belarusian Investigative Committee said Bondarenko was drunk and sustained injuries in a fight with local residents. The committee said Bondarenko had been brought to the Central District Police Department in Minsk to clarify the circumstances of the incident, and an ambulance was later called for him.
In an interview with Belarusian and foreign journalists on November 13, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko extended his condolences to Bondarenko's relatives in connection with his death in Minsk. Lukashenko said that the authorities had not benefitted from that death and called for it not to be politicized.
A spontaneous memorial was created on the site where Bondarenko died. On November 15, the memorial was eliminated by the police. Lukashenko later called on the city authorities to set the situation in order and spoke against the creation of spontaneous memorials in the capital, calling them "the place of the start of a civil war."
Protests against the outcome of the election won by Lukashenko have continued in Belarus since August 9.
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