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Rally at massacre site commemorates Stalin terror victims


A group of heritage conservation and small business activists, opposition youths and former Gulag prisoners gathered in the Kurapaty forest close to the Minsk beltway on Thursday to commemorate Stalin terror victims.

They lit candles and laid flowers at mass graves containing the remains of people believed to have been executed by the NKVD secret police.

The crowd observed a minute of silence and sang “Mahutny Bozha” (Oh, Lord Almighty), a Belarusian-language anthem.
The NKVD is believed to have executed 58 people as part of Stalinist purges in Belarus in May 1938.

Speaking at the rally, writer Vasil Yakavenka expressed hope that the commemoration of Stalin terror victims would contribute to “the preservation of the people’s spiritual culture.”

Opposition activist Vyachaslaw Siwchyk called on the crowd to hold another rally at the massacre site on June 3 to mark 20 years since a newspaper article by Zyanon Paznyak and Yawhen Shmyhalyow that shed light on the Kurapaty executions was published.

It was the article that encouraged the foundation of the Belarusian Popular Front and other national revivalist organizations a few months later, according to Mr. Siwchyk.

A total of seven police officers in uniform and plainclothesmen were present at the site during the rally. //BelaPAN

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