On February 1, unknown individuals demolished the so-called Clinton’s Bench in Kurapaty, a Stalin-era mass executions site near Minsk.
The bench was presented by the then U.S. President Bill Clinton who visited Kurapaty in 1994. It has been vandalized about 20 times, but the Belarusian authorities have never traced committers.
The photo that activist and former political prisoner Zmitser Dashkevich posted on Facebook shows the marble bench broken into four large pieces.
The barbaric act has occurred against the background of improving US-Belarus relations: in mid January, Minsk removed a cap on the number of American diplomats allowed in the country.
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. Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka has never paid tribute to the killed in Kurapaty.
Since late May, the group of Belarusian activists is protesting against ‘dancing on the bones’, i.e.the activity of Let’s Go And Eat restaurant 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. The Minsk police have already drawn dozens of protocols against activists who had blocked the restaurant that opened at the site of the massacre.