15 detained in Kurapaty confrontation
At least 15 persons were arrested yesterday during a spontaneous protest in the Minsk-based Kurapaty forest, after opposition activists attempted to prevent the demolition of several dozen wooden crosses near the site of Stalin-era mass executions.
Media reports said bulldozers and dump trucks were involved in the unannounced operation. People who approached the site were detained by police and taken to police stations. They include opposition leaders Pavel Seviarynets, Zmitser Dashkevich and Dzianis Urbanovich.
Most of them were eventually released without charges later the same day.
The unpopular decision to clear the area adjoining the memorial was reportedly taken by President Lukashenka and triggered harsh reactions by political parties, civil society organizations and religious groups.
A statement released by the Belarusian PEN Center and supported by the Human Rights Center “Viasna” said the “demolition of the crosses is an act of vandalism on the side of the government,” while the authorities repeatedly failed to properly react to vandalism attacks on the memorial site.