All Souls’ Day in Minsk: March in memory of Stalinists’ victims in Kurapaty (photos, video)

On October 28, an authorized event took place in Minsk. About 200 persons gathered at the Luch factory and marched to Kurapaty, a Stalin-era mass execution site.

On November 2, Belarusians mark Dzyady, the Day of All Souls.

Kurapaty, a place on the outskirts of Minsk, is not just the national memorial and a mass grave of the victims of Stalinist repression; since 1993, it has been is a site of historical and cultural heritage. According to historians, 100,000 – 250,000 persons might have been killed there.

Archeologist Zyanon Paznyak’s unveiling the dark past of Kurapaty and further exhumation of the remains in 1988 gave an added momentum to the pro-democracy and pro-independence movement in Belarus in the last years of the USSR.

The participants were set not only to honour the memory of the executed, but also to protest against ‘dancing on the bones’, i.e.the activity of the restaurant Let’s Go And Eat in the vicinity of the mass grave under the passive eye of the local authorities. According to the protesters, its construction and opening at the very place was illegal. Activists first asked the authorities to interfere with the situation, and then decided to act independently. They are trying not to let cars to the territory of the restaurant. Since early June, the police have drawn dozens of protocols against activists who had blocked the restaurant that opened at the site of the massacre.

The conflict between the Belarusian authorities and the democratic community has been lasting for almost 30 years. Moreover, vandals repeatedly destroyed crosses, damaged the so-called Clinton bench, desecrated icons. The defenders of Kurapaty were fined and arrested many times during the construction of the ring road and an attempt to build a business centre here. Now activists are trying to appeal to the conscience of the notorious restaurant’s owners.

A few days earlier, two large-sized bulldozers, a MAZ truck and an excavator dug a trench about 12 meters long in the immediate vicinity of the Kurapaty crosses. However, the city authorities state that a memorial sign will be set up here soon.

After the march, a rally and a joint prayer for innocent people killed were held in Kurapaty. On Monday evening activists will come here to mark the Executed Poets’ Night and pay the tribute to Belarusian cultural figures who were shot down in Kurapaty on 29-30 October, 1937 with the consent of Josef Stalin.


Photo by Iryna Arakhouskaya /