Kurapaty: 20 years after discovery

2008 2008-06-04T17:59:01+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On 3 June 1988 the Belarusians learnt the truth about Stalin’s repressions in the country through an article Kurapaty –the Road of Death in the Litaratura i Mastatstva newspaper, written by Zianon Pazniak and Yauhen Shmyhaliou. This article also provoked one of the first mass protest action in the USSR – people came to Kurapaty on Dziady (the day of the dead).

Kurapaty, near Minsk, is a place of mass executions in 1937-41. During archaeological dig in forest area Kurapaty in April-May 1988 human remains were found. These facts soon spread due to the activity of Zyanon Pazniak, historian, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front party and public organization Martyrolog of Belarus. In June 1988 a governmental commission was created and the procuracy of the BSSR (Belarusian Soviet Socialistic Republic) instituted a criminal case on the revealed facts.

In the process of investigation it was cleared out, which is confirmed by information report of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Belarus, that officers of the BSSR NKVD (Soviet secret police) executed the repressed Belarusian people. According to different data, about 30 thousand people are buried in Kurapaty (some historians say about 100 000 and even 250 000 people). But under Lukashenka’s rule the official propaganda began to refute the facts, confirmed by the state commissions in 1990ies.

In 1988 dozens of thousands of people came to Kurapaty to pay tribute to the memory of the victims. These memorial rallies gave birth to the Belarusian Popular Front “Revival” (the BPF). A many-thousand meeting near Maskouskiya cemetery in early November of 1988 and rally to Kurapaty, dedicated to Dziady, the day of commemoration of the dead, were dispersed by the communists BSSR authorities with the help of water cannons and tear-gas.

Due to demands of various public organizations 4 official investigations have been conducted on Kurapaty case over the last 20 years. Specialists from the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Military Prosecutor’s Office, and scientists worked on the case. They came to categorical conclusion that the executions were performed by NKVD bodies during 1930ies till the beginning of war 1941-45. The conclusions of the last investigation haven’t been published yet, RFE/RL reports.