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 “Litaratura i Mastatstva” newspaper, written by Zyanon Paznyak and Yauhen Shmyhalou. This article also provoked one of the first mass protest action in the USSR – people came to Kurapaty on Dzyady (the day of commemoration 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 Paznyak, historian, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front party and public organisation “Martyrology of Belarus.” In June 1988 a governmental commission was created and 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 and even 250 thousand 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 Dzyady, 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 organisations 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, Radio Svaboda reports.
Discoverer of Kurapaty Zyanon Paznyak thinks “through the understanding of the truth about genocide Kurapaty mobilised the people to fighting for freedom and justice, and gave an impact to resurrection of the Belarusian nation.”
The importance of the revealing the truth about Kurapaty for Belarus, in Paznyak’s opinion, is that it has become an infallible proof of the genocide of Russian occupants against the Belarusian people, which was organised under the cover of communism as a social form and ideology of terror, as a method of excuse of massacre.”
Zyanon Paznyak is sure it is Kurapaty that have really given an opportunity of “Nurnberg process” over the Russian communism. “So while the Russian superstate exists, while its criminal power and imperial policy exist, there will be aspirations to destroy Kurapaty and everything connected with them,” the politician explains the unwillingness of the Belarusian regime to recognise Kurapaty as a sign of the communist terror.
However, he is sure that every Belarusian takes Kurapaty as “a many-valued symbol of the destiny of our people, it is also a sacred place, painful point of the Belarusian people’s genius and Bulgarian existence.”
Archaeologist Mikola Kryvaltsevich, a participant of dig in Kurapaty, is sure little has been made for the 20 years to research Kurapaty further.
“it has been established that executions and burial of the killed people in Kurapaty took place in the 1930ies. It is only beginning of the investigation of Kurapaty matter: we must know, who was killed, who performed the execution, where the people were guarded from, what accusation they were presented... Kurapaty is only one site on a map of Belarus, where people were executed. Places of mass executions were near every big Belarusian city. We must look for these place, research them,” Kryvaltsevich says.
But, according to the archaeologist, the activity that has any relation to disclosure of Stalin’s repressions was practically stopped in Belarus. So the society should gain showdown to the truth, the society has a lot work to do there.
Mr Kryvaltsevich also told a bout a strong impression of his work in Kurapaty. “I was impressed with despair, hopelessness o0f the people, who were killed, who weren’t able to defend themselves. The society we lived and are living now can’t defend itself and consolidate for a time of persecution. The most impressive thing I saw during these disinterments was see the thousands of killed people lying in graves, and nobody cares for it. Unfortunately, many Belarusians don’t know about that place,” the archaeologist concluded.
Photo Radio Svaboda