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Veteran Belarusian Independence Activist Anton Furs Dies At 94

Anton Furs
Anton Furs

MINSK -- Anton Furs, a veteran activist for Belarus's independence and a member of the Union of Belarusian Patriots, a post-World War 2 underground Belarusian youth organization, has died at the age of 94.

Furs' son, Yuras Furs, wrote on Facebook early on October 20 that his father died at his home in the northern town of Pastavy. He did not reveal the cause of death.

While studying in the mid-1940s to become a teacher, Furs and his friends created the underground youth organization with the goal of promoting Belarusian language and culture.

In February 1947, Furs was arrested and charged with anti-Soviet activities. He was sentenced to death for his offences, though the sentence was later reduced to 25 years in prison.

He served his prison term in Russia’s Urals city of Turin and in Karlag -- a system of notorious Soviet prisons near the city of Qaraghandy in Central Kazakhstan.

In 1955, Furs took part in a famous inmate riot that spread through several prisons of Karlag. He served nine years in the brutal Soviet prison system before being granted an early release.

After that, Furs married Alesya Umpirovich, a Belarusian activist who also served prison time for her beliefs.

Until 1982, the couple lived in Kazakhstan. They then moved to Belarus, where in 1992, Furs and other members of the youth organization were exonerated by a state commission that ruled the Union of Belarusian Patriots did not commit any crimes.

His wife -- whom he met through the youth organization -- was exonerated in 1993. She died in August 2017 at the age of 92.

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