MINSK -- Belarusian police have opened a criminal investigation into the vandalism of a memorial to Stalin-era victims near Minsk, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.
The Minsk Oblast police department made the announcement today about the November 5 incident in the town of Kurapaty.
Vandals reportedly damaged 38 wooden crosses at the memorial in honor of Belarusians killed during Soviet leader Josef Stalin's purges of government and military officials and repression of peasants in 1936-38.
Local residents called Minsk Oblast police on November 6 and asked them to investigate the damage. The incident has been qualified as "hooliganism" under Article 339.1 of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
According to the Minsk Oblast police, the Kurapaty memorial has been vandalized before. In 2008, two teenagers were sentenced for destroying parts of it.
Opposition Belarusian Popular Front party (BNF) member Ales Chakholsky told RFE/RL on November 7 that the vandalism might have been timed to coincide with either Russia's National Unity Day on November 4 or the anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution on November 7.