First authorized Kurapaty manifestation held 30 years ago

Kurapaty Tract, 1989 / Vasil Syamashka

First officially allowed (by the Soviet authorities) Kurapaty manifestation was held in Minsk 30 years ago on Dzyady. It ended in Kurapaty where Zyanon Paznyak and Leanid Shmyhalyou found human remains a year before. Those people were executed during Stalin’s Great Terror.

The first big cross that was surrounded by a people’s memorial consisting of hundreds of crosses was installed in memory of the victims in Kurapaty on that day. Witnesses of the execution (elderly people who saw NKVD trucks bringing people to the forest and heard the sound of shots in the 1930s) talked to the present.

Photographer Vasil Syamashka has found the photos in his archive. He made them with his camera Zenit-11 at the age of 17. It was his first photo report. There were many other photographers with better equipment in Kurapaty, he noted. However, the Soviet press ignored the event just like the Belarusian state press is ignoring “The Night of Executed Poets” organized by civil activists every year on October 29.

Young Zyanon Paznyak / Vasil Syamashka
People in Kurapaty/ Vasil Syamashka
Dzyady-1989 in Kurapaty / Vasil Syamashka
Will the girl recognize herself now? / Vasil Syamashka
Dzyady-1989 in Kurapaty / Vasil Syamashka
Witnesses of the executions of the 1930s / Vasil Syamashka
Journalists are watching the action / Vasil Syamashka