Popular Front stages march to remember Stalin terror victims

A march was staged by the Belarusian Popular Front in Minsk on Sunday to mark Remembrance of Ancestors’ Day (Dzyady) and commemorate Stalin terror victims.

The march kicked off at noon at the Uskhodniya cemetery on the northeastern edge of Minsk, where the crowd had laid flowers at the graves of famous writers Uladzimir Karatkevich and Vasil Bykaw, poet and BPF co-founder Pimen Panchanka and historian Mikhas Tkachow before setting out for Kurapaty, a Stalin-era massacre site.

Addressing the crowd at the cemetery, poet Uladzimir Nyaklyayew said that journalist Syarhey Shapran had compiled a two-volume book of recollections about Bykaw. “And when you read the book, you understand that Bykaw was a figure of global importance as the recollections mention the names of the world’s most famous people of that time,” he said and read out his poem dedicated to the renowned author.

Lyavon Barshchewski, chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front, said that Belarus’ modern history would have taken a different turn but for Bykaw. “It is his firmness, character, strength of mind hardened during the troubled pre-war years and the years of the war ordeal that helped the following generations of Belarusians,” he said.

Pointing to a huge Finnish-made memorial stone put up at Bykaw’s grave, Mr. Barshchewski said, “This stone embodies the great spirit of not only giant Bykaw but also the great spirit and potential of our Belarusian land.”

The crowd, including BPF Deputy Chairmen Vintsuk Vyachorka and Viktar Ivashkevich, arrived at Kurapaty at about 2:30 p.m., swelling to about a thousand by that time.

The event was crowned by a rally.