Kurapaty defenders’ triumph: No construction near Stalin-era mass grave site

The two-week defense of Kurapaty, a mass executions site, seems to have ended in the victory.

“We have made a conclusion that it makes no sense to stay here further on. The investor has done everything they promised within a week, which has come as a surprise to us. But we will keep an eye on the site,” Young Front leader Zmitser Dashkevich says.

“If Shorats [Head of Minsk City Executive Commitee] finds another developer – we will return. Moreover, we are making an official statement: all these pallets, a barrel, tents and a piano will be placed near the building of Minsk city executive committee,” the activist stresses.

In late February, the Belarusian activists began a long-term action in defense of the memorial protesting against the construction of an office building started a few dozen meters from Kurapaty. According to them, it is fraudulent as the building permission was granted when the area was considered a protected zone. Syarhei Palcheuski, one of the participants of the watch at Kurapaty, lay under the wheels of the truck and handcuffed himself to the bumper.

The plot on which ‘Belrekonstruktsiya’ company undertook the construction of a four-storey business center was sold by the city authorities at the auction in 2013. In 2014 the protected zone was significantly cut. According to historian Ihar Kuznyatsou, it is highly likely that remains of the victims will be found here. KGB archives which could cast light on the burial plans are classified until now.

Kurapaty is not just the national memorial to the victims of Stalinist repression, it is a site of historical and cultural heritage. Belarusian Voluntary Society for Protection of Monuments appealed to the KGB and city authorities with a statement about possible corruption schemes and violations during the construction project design which is interfering with the protected zone.

Why should Belarusians defend Kurapaty? (Belsat ENG video)

Last week, Andrey Shorats met with a group of four people to discuss the conflict. The official promised that construction works near Kurapaty would be suspended for a week. According to politician Pavel Sevyarynets, it was a ‘battling draw’. Despite the decision, the activists refuse to displace the camp of Kurapaty defenders: they demand the construction of the business center be terminated.

After several-day protesting in Kurapaty, the developer decided to take away its building fleet. Last Thursday, the company ordered to minimize any works and take the machines away. However, Minsk City Committee has not given up the idea to stop the construction of a business center here.