Belarusian Popular Front team wins Freedom Cup soccer tournament in commemoration of Henadz Karpenka


A team of the Belarusian Popular Front won a traditional “Freedom Cup” soccer tournament held in Minsk on Saturday in commemoration of prominent Belarusian politician and statesman Henadz Karpenka (1949-99).

Also participating in the tournament were teams representing the United Civic Party, the Belarusian Party of Communists, and the Belarusian Social Democratic Party “Hramada,” as well as a team of journalists.

Players included Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party (UCP); UCP Deputy Chairman Yaraslaw Ramanchuk; Ihar Shynkaryk, head of the UCP Executive Committee; Ihar Rynkevich, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party “Hramada”; and Andrei Bastunets, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

The tournament, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the declaration of Belarus' state sovereignty, was held for the 12th consecutive year.

Henadz Karpenka was deputy chairman of the 13th Supreme Soviet (Belarusian parliament disbanded by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka after a controversial 1996 referendum), deputy chairman of the United Civic Party, and chairman of the National Executive Committee (opposition's shadow cabinet).

He died in intensive care in Minsk on April 6, 1999 at the age of 49. He had not regained consciousness after hospitalization on March 31 with a cerebral hemorrhage and an unsuccessful operation on April 1.

Many in Belarus consider his death suspicious. His widow believes that it was a well-planned and sophisticated murder.

Karpenka had been an outspoken opponent of Mr. Lukashenka for many years. He refused to recognize the 1996 referendum, or to join the new legislature handpicked by the Belarusian leader, facing constant persecution by the authorities. He worked hard to unite the opposition forces in Belarus, chairing the Congress of Pro-democratic Forces in January 1999, and planned to run for the presidency in 2001. //BelaPAN