Vitsebsk activists ask authorities to determine whose remains are discovered in the wood near Vitsebsk (photo report)

2014 2014-11-13T21:32:33+0300 2014-11-13T21:36:40+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Vitsebsk activists of the Conservative Christian Party Belarusian Popular Front filed a statement to the prosecutor, the investigating committee and the police to initiate an examination with the aim to determine whose remains have been lying for several decades in the forest near the village of Khaisy in the Vitsebsk region. According to local residents, in 1937-38. Stalin's executions took place here.

The remains - skulls with holes from bullets, and human bones –
are often discovered by residents of nearby villages while picking mushrooms in the woods. One of the villagers, Ivan Kudzinau, applied to the local village council, asking for assistance in establishing the identity of the buried people. However, he didn't receive any response from the authorities. His brother, Siarhei Kudzinau, mentions the mother's stories:

My brother and me were piking mushrooms when we saw some entrenched pits, and human remains in them. We returned home and started to ask our mother, whohad lived her whole life in the village of Baravoye, which is now attached to Drykolle. She said that there were shootings - people were taken to the forest by cars. A villager came across a cordon once and was told to go away quickly and not to ask any questions... My brother was an active person and wanted to know what had happened there. Only now our dream is coming true – somebody started taking interest in this problem!”
The problem of the unknown graves was raised by a member of CCP BPF Yan Dziarzhautsau. He worked in the archives, came there a few times, interviewing old-timers in the village. One of them, Valiantsina Shaheyeva was a child in 1937 was just a child. She remembers cars buzzing at night, and sounds of gunshots. She doesn't remember if anyone was shot in the wood during the wartime. Therefore she believes that the wood can be a mass grave of victims of Stalinism:

I don't know how they were buried there. After the war, some people dug out the graves. They were looking for something, maybe for valuables. They were strangers, not local dwellers. Then a part of the forest was uprooted, and a field was made. These graves were there as well. Many of them remained in the forest.

CCP BPF activist
Yan Dzyarzhautsau decided that there is an urgent need to inform the responsible agencies so that the remains could be examined and reburied properly. Meanwhile, party members have established several crosses in the woods near the pits, where they found the skulls and bones.

They lit candles and laid red carnations in the memory of the killed. Greek Catholic priest Dzmitry Hryshan served a requiem mass grave near the improvised memorial. The present people prayed for all victims at once, as far as their names not known so far. However, Mr. Dziarzhautsau believes it's just a question of time.