Partner of dead Belarus protester believes police shot him

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Elena German reacts as she speaks during her interview with the Associated Press in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. Alexander Taraikovsky's life-partner Elena German told The Associated Press on Saturday that she is sure her 34-year-old mate was shot by police. German spoke a few hours before Taraikovsky's funeral and burial, an event that could reinforce the anger of demonstrators who for the past have protested what they consider a sham presidential election and the violent police response to their protests. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

MINSK – The partner of a man who died in the protests engulfing Belarus says she does not believe the official account that Alexander Taraikovsky was killed when an explosive device that he intended to throw at police blew up in his hand.

Elena German told The Associated Press on Saturday that she is sure her 34-year-old partner was shot by police.

German spoke a few hours before Taraikovsky's funeral and burial, an event that could reinforce the anger of demonstrators who have protested what they consider a sham presidential election and the violent police crackdown on opposition.

Taraikovsky died Monday as protests roiled the streets of Minsk, the capital, denouncing official figures that showed authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, had won a sixth term in office.

German was able to visit the morgue and see his body on Friday, four days after he died. She said she did not believe he had been holding an explosive.

"There is a seam in the chest area — the hole was sewn up, but there is a black bruise; it's small but we noticed. His hands and feet are completely intact, there are not even bruises, ”she said.

“Obviously, it was a shot right in the chest,” she said.

Video shot by an Associated Press journalist on Monday shows Taraikovsky with a bloodied shirt before collapsing on the ground. Several police are seen nearby and some walk over to where Taraikovsky is lying on the street and stand around him.