Updated at 17:39,28-11-2020

Ukrainians pay last tribute to Belarusian killed in Kyiv clashes

Iryna LEWSHYNA, Naviny.by

Thousands of people, including Ukrainian opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleh Tyahnybok, turned out Sunday to pay final respects to Mikhail Zhyznewski, a Belarusian citizen killed in clashes between anti-government protesters and police whose body was lying in state at St. Mykhaylo Cathedral in Kyiv.

Mourners displayed national flags of Ukraine and red and black flags of the UNA-UNSO nationalist organization, of which Mikhail was a member, and chanted, “Hero!”, “Zhyve Belarus!” (Long Live Belarus!), “Murderers!” and “We Won’t Forgive!”

On Saturday, a commemorative rally for Mikhail Zhyznewski in Bila Tserkva, a Ukrainian city near Kyiv where Mikhail lived after leaving Belarus in 2005, grew into a large anti-government protest. Several thousand people marched along the city’s central street, demanding the resignation of the government and President Viktor Yanukovych.

Mikhail Zhyznewski, who would have had his 26th birthday on Sunday, will be buried in a cemetery near Homyel, where there are the graves of his relatives.

His mother, Homyel resident Nina Zhyznewski, told BelaPAN that she had decided not to travel to Kyiv because she felt unwell after suffering several heart attacks.

The body is expected to be accompanied to Homyel by the deceased’s sister and his father, also Mikhail.

Mikhail “Loki” Zhyznewski was killed by a gunshot to the chest on Wednesday morning on Hrushevskoho Street in central Kyiv.

Initial reports had it that he was killed by a 9mm bullet from a Makarov pistol, the Ukrainian police’s standard sidearm, but his Bila Tserkva friend, who saw his body in a Kyiv mortuary, says that it was not a Makarov pistol. According to Oleksandra Panchenko, she saw a large bullet entry hole right at the center of the chest, which indicated that he had been shot at from the front. She says that someone hastily stitched up the hole, and that police officers handed her a paper saying that the cause of the death was not established.

Ms. Panchenko says that she showed photographs of the wound to firearm experts who concluded that the hole had been caused by a 12mm bullet, usually used for hunting large game.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities keep claiming that neither police nor state security forces were involved in the death of Mikhail Zhyznewski and other protesters.

Oleksandr Kharlov, a departmental head at the Kyiv City Prosecutor’s Office, told reporters on Saturday that in the past three days, unidentified criminals had “used firearms during the unrest in Kyiv, taking advantage of the general euphoria among radical protesters.”

Mr. Kharlov noted that firearms “adapted to fire bullet cartridges for hunting” were used in all the cases.

Investigators’ and forensic experts’ findings exclude the possibility that such firearms were used by special task and other police units, Mr. Kharlov stressed.

He noted that the cases would continue to be investigated.