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In Belarus: Remembering The Victims Of Political Repression

More than 100 Belarusians, including 22 writers and poets, were executed by the NKVD secret police (the predecessor to Belarus's present-day KGB), overnight on October 29, 1937. While not officially marked by the Belarusian government, it is an unofficial day of commemoration for victims of political repression. Between 600,000 and 1.5 million people fell victim to Soviet leader Josef Stalin's repression in Belarus, according to various estimates. Some survivors of Stalin's repression and their relatives tell their stories. (10 PHOTOS)

Crosses at a mass grave in Kuropaty on the outskirts of Minsk on October 16, 2013. Kuropaty is a wooded area where hundreds of people were executed between 1937 and 1941 by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, the predecessor to the KGB.
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Crosses at a mass grave in Kuropaty on the outskirts of Minsk on October 16, 2013. Kuropaty is a wooded area where hundreds of people were executed between 1937 and 1941 by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, the predecessor to the KGB.

Uladzimer Romanouski, 72, holds portraits of his father, Ivan, and mother, Valyantsina, in Minsk on October 23, 2013. Ivan and Valyantsina were arrested in 1937 and 1938, respectively, by the NKVD and spent many years in concentration camps in the north of the country until the death of Stalin.
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Uladzimer Romanouski, 72, holds portraits of his father, Ivan, and mother, Valyantsina, in Minsk on October 23, 2013. Ivan and Valyantsina were arrested in 1937 and 1938, respectively, by the NKVD and spent many years in concentration camps in the north of the country until the death of Stalin.

Zinaida Tarasevich, 76, holds a self-made tin mug that her mother gave her before she died. This mug was in remembrance of the primitive kitchen utensils her parents had to use during their long years in a concentration camp in the Russian Arctic. Of the more than 20 relatives sent to the camp as political prisoners, only her mother and father managed to survive and return home to Minsk after Stalin's death.
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Zinaida Tarasevich, 76, holds a self-made tin mug that her mother gave her before she died. This mug was in remembrance of the primitive kitchen utensils her parents had to use during their long years in a concentration camp in the Russian Arctic. Of the more than 20 relatives sent to the camp as political prisoners, only her mother and father managed to survive and return home to Minsk after Stalin's death.

Nadzeya Demidovich, 86, poses for a photo at her house in Kalodzishchy, on the outskirts of Minsk on October 26, 2013. Demidovich says she was sentenced to 25 years in concentration camps in Kazakhstan and Russia for her membership in the banned Union of Belarusian Youth.
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Nadzeya Demidovich, 86, poses for a photo at her house in Kalodzishchy, on the outskirts of Minsk on October 26, 2013. Demidovich says she was sentenced to 25 years in concentration camps in Kazakhstan and Russia for her membership in the banned Union of Belarusian Youth.

Alla Kanatush, 78, holds a photo of her and husband Uladzimer, in Minsk on October 23, 2013. Uladzimer Kanatush was arrested at the end of 1949 and sentenced to 25 years in a labor camp, but survived and returned home after Stalin's death.
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Alla Kanatush, 78, holds a photo of her and husband Uladzimer, in Minsk on October 23, 2013. Uladzimer Kanatush was arrested at the end of 1949 and sentenced to 25 years in a labor camp, but survived and returned home after Stalin's death.

Stanislau Shushkevich, the first leader of independent Belarus, shows a portrait of his father, Stanislau, on a computer screen in Minsk. Shushkevich says his father was arrested twice, in 1936 and 1948, but survived the camps to return home.
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Stanislau Shushkevich, the first leader of independent Belarus, shows a portrait of his father, Stanislau, on a computer screen in Minsk. Shushkevich says his father was arrested twice, in 1936 and 1948, but survived the camps to return home.

Uladzimer Kolas, 62, holds a photo of his father, Heorhiy, and grandfather, Danila, in Minsk. Kolas's relatives spent years in exile but survived and returned home in the 1950s.
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Uladzimer Kolas, 62, holds a photo of his father, Heorhiy, and grandfather, Danila, in Minsk. Kolas's relatives spent years in exile but survived and returned home in the 1950s.

Maya Klyashtornaya, 76, stands among crosses at a mass grave in Kuropaty to commemorate her father, Todor, on the outskirts of Minsk on October 16, 2013. Belarusian poet Todor Klyashtorny, then 35, was among more than 100 Belarusians, including 22 writers and poets, executed by the NKVD overnight on October 29, 1937.
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Maya Klyashtornaya, 76, stands among crosses at a mass grave in Kuropaty to commemorate her father, Todor, on the outskirts of Minsk on October 16, 2013. Belarusian poet Todor Klyashtorny, then 35, was among more than 100 Belarusians, including 22 writers and poets, executed by the NKVD overnight on October 29, 1937.

Historian and lexicographer Leanid Marakou holds a daily chart of executions carried out by the NKVD from 1937-1938.
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Historian and lexicographer Leanid Marakou holds a daily chart of executions carried out by the NKVD from 1937-1938.

More crosses at the mass grave in Kuropaty.
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More crosses at the mass grave in Kuropaty.

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