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Graves Of Stalin Victims Vandalized In Belarus

Vandals attacked graves in the Kurapaty area outside Minsk.

Vandals attacked graves in the Kurapaty area outside Minsk.

MINSK -- Unknown individuals have vandalized a memorial to the victims of Josef Stalin's oppressions in the Kurapaty wooded area outside of Minsk, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The Kurapaty area outside of the Belarusian capital was the site of tens of thousands of executions between 1937-1941 by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, a forerunner of the KGB.

At least two graves at the site were desecrated on April 2, during which vandals unearthed the graves' remains.

Belarusian Conservative Christian Party activist Ales Chakholsky told RFE/RL that he accepted the news as if it were the desecration of the grave of his grandfather, who was shot by the NKVD in 1934.

The chairman of the Society to Protect Memorials and Historic Buildings, Anton Astapovich, says the graves may have been damaged by "black diggers" -- those who seek valuables buried with deceased people -- despite the fact that people were usually not formally buried there.