Remembering the Victims of Soviet Repressions in Belarus
29 October marks the unofficial day of remembrance for victims of the Soviet repressions in Belarus.
On the night of 29-30 October, 1937, more than 100 notable representatives of Belarusian national elite. Writers, artists, journalists, scientists and civil servants were executed by NKVD in Kurapaty, a wooded area on the outskirts of Minsk. That day marked the peak of the mass executions carried out in 1947-1941, which were part of the large-scale repressions conducted under the Stalinist regime during the 1930s.
The mass killings remained shrouded in secrecy, until the burials in Kurapaty were discovered in 1988 and made public. An investigation conducted from 1988 to 1995 established that Kurapaty contained the remains of 30 000 to 250 000 people, who were identified as victims of Stalin's political terror. To this day, the exact count of victims remains uncertain.
Several days after the existence of the mass graves was revealed to the public, Kurapaty became a site of memory. Moreover, the territory of the mass graves was registered in 1993 on the list of Belarusian sites of historical cultural heritage.
Nowadays, a memorial event is held annually in the Kurapaty forest in the evening of 29 October. The participants of "The Night of the Murdered Poets" recite the poems and extracts from the prose written by the executed literary figures as well as the pieces by contemporary authors.
The Belarusian authorities have declined the proposal to recognise 29 October as an official day of remembrance.