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Construction Suspended Near Memorial Site In Belarus, Amid Protests

Activists in Belarus met with Minsk Mayor Andrey Shorats.
Activists in Belarus met with Minsk Mayor Andrey Shorats.

MINSK -- City authorities in Minsk have agreed to temporarily suspend a controversial construction project adjacent to a protected area that has led to nearly two weeks of protests.

Activists in Belarus met with Minsk Mayor Andrey Shorats and his associates on March 1 to discuss the demands of demonstrators, who oppose construction of a business center next to the Kurapaty preserve near Minsk.

The Kurapaty preserve is protected to commemorate at least 30,000 people who were killed and buried there by Soviet authorities during the 1930s and '40s.

Dozens of protesters have blocked construction near the preserve by camping at the construction site since February 20.

They insist the project desecrates the memory of thousands of people who were victims of the Soviet state under dictator Josef Stalin.

Shorats on March 1 met for 90 minutes with the delegation of activists, which included Christian Democratic Party Chairman Paval Sevyarynets, Belarusian Popular Front Party Chairman Alyaksey Yanukevich, historian Marat Haravy, and Kurapty resident Yury Stsepanishchau.

The delegates told RFE/RL the meeting ended with a decision by Shorats to suspend construction for at least one week.

They said Shorats agreed that a decision on whether to continue the construction would be made only after nationwide public discussions on the issue.

Meanwhile, demonstrators have vowed that they will remain at the site until the construction project is abandoned completely.

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