It is little wonder that the younger generation in Belarus is not aware of the communists’ crimes: the current regime knowingly withholds information on black pages of the Soviet history, independent historians state.
For many years Iryna Kashtalyan has been studying the social and political issues of Belarusian society in the period from 1944 to 1953. It is particularly remarkable that the historian did not manage to pass her PhD defense at the Belarusian State University. “I did make an attempt but it is dangerous to work on the issue [of repressions] here. I even had to file a lawsuit in court because no fair investigation was provided by the State Commission for Academic Degrees and Titles after I had been accused of blackening the Soviet system,” Ms Kashtalyan says.
As a result the woman had to desist from continuing the studies at home and moved to Germany where she successfully presented her thesis. Such a situation is not exceptional for Belarus: the state does his best to whitewash its shady Soviet past.
“For the last 15 years there has been no turn for the better on the part of the authorities. Not a single memorial tablet or book has been created; state-owned media still ignore the problem,” historian Ihar Kuzniatsou states. At the same time, in neighbouring Poland, Lithuania and Latvia Stalinist Purges is studied at schools as an independent subject. Even Russia is gradually lifting the veils.
“One may work in the archives of the Communist party which are open now; one may work in the archives of the Politburo, any other departments or military escorts and find information on repressions. The researchers are having it in the works; there are a lot of books,” Sergey Krivenko, a member of Moscow community “Memorial” says.
Historians wonder why the Belarusian authorities repeatedly refuse to reach out to them. “They fear that society will find historical parallels between Stalin’s regime and contemporary Belarus after all the crimes of communists are cleared. In this case positioning themselves as successors to Soviet traditions will be non comme il faut for the authorities,” Ihar Kuzniatsou says.