Lukashenka fans the flames by threatening Belarusian shrine

Kurapaty memorial, 1989 (Image: Wikimedia)

Kurapaty memorial, 1989 (Image: Wikimedia) 

2017/02/23 • Analysis & Opinion, Belarus, Politics

Even as some are suggesting that Alyaksandr Lukashenka might disown the vagrants tax that has sparked mass protests in Belarus, the Minsk dictator is making his situation worse by threatening to build over the mass graves at Kuropaty, whose discovery by Zyanon Paznyak in 1988 energized the Belarusian national movement at the end of Soviet times.

More mass protests are slated for this weekend and with officials hunkering down to avoid talking with Belarusians, and Belarusian courts are bracing for a massive number of protests against the application of the decree.

And that has sparked speculation that Lukashenka will seek a way out, possibly blaming the decree on his subordinates in order to save face. But if that is his plan, he and his regime at the same time are only adding to their problems by attacking one of the most important symbols of Belarusian national identity, the Kuropaty mass graves.

In a commentary for Belsat, Belarusian political commentator Aleksandr Klaskovsky says that Lukashenka has gone to Sochi both to avoid being in his own country when his people are in the streets and in the hopes of having a meeting with Vladimir Putin who might do something to bail him out.

“I don’t envy Alyaksandr Lukashenka today,” the commentator continues. Belarusian protests are only growing and the Kremlin appears to have turned a deaf ear to his entreaties. Undoubtedly, he is using his time in Sochi to take a time out and even consider canceling the vagrants tax decree by blaming it on his subordinates.

But that is probably unlikely because Lukashenka signed it and he needs to find a way to “save face.” Undoubtedly, however, Klaskovsky continues, Lukashenka “himself already isn’t happy that he at one point signed this decree.”

At the same time, however, Lukashenka is taking steps in another sector that almost certainly will make his situation more difficult. He has approved the construction of a business center on the site of the Kuropaty mass graves where more than 30,000 Belarusians were interred after being executed on Stalin’s order.

Belarusian activists have now erected a tent city there in order to block the construction, and they reportedly have the support of people in the region for both ethno-national and NIMBY reasons. The builders say they have all the necessary approvals from the state, but such claims are dismissed by the protesters.

The discovery of the mass graves there in 1988 by historian Zyanon Paznyak and the partial exhumation of the remains of those buried there contributed significantly to the rise of pro-democracy and pro-independence attitudes among Belarusians. (For the best survey of this, see David R. Marples, “Kuropaty: The Investigation of a Stalinist Historical Controversy,” Slavic Review, 53:2 (1994), pp. 513-523.)

In 1993, the Belarusian government took the area under its protection as a memorial site. But now, 24 years later, Minsk has decided to allow the construction of a business center there in order to make money. What does this say? Belsat asks. It says that the government can’t be trusted to keep its word.

If such views spread, they will only intensify the anti-vagrants tax movement and transform it into a genuinely ethno-national cause, one that will be far more anti-Moscow and anti-Russian and thus a cause that Lukashenka will have far greater difficulties in keeping it in check by turning to his Kremlin ally as he has in the past.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Shane

    I’m interested in what’s going on there, but have read nothing in the US press. All of Western press is concerned only with destroying D. Trump. Sad state of affairs. Wishing all the best to freedom lovers in Belarus.

    • Alex George

      If you are interested, you can learn about it.

  • zorbatheturk

    Anybody else going to Sochi this weekend? The drinks are on Putin! Maybe Kim Jongun, Mugabe, Ass-ad, Maduro, Castro, Danny Ortega, Castro, and a few Uzbeks will crash the party. What a hoot!

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      You forgot Morales of Bolivia, another member of the Loon Club. :)
      Perhaps Christina Kirchner will attend, even though she’s no longer in power in Argentina. She definitely belongs to the Club, however.

      • zorbatheturk

        Well, after spending a night at Xi’s place, check that you still have two kidneys, is all I can say. Xi may not have stolen quite as many billions as Putin yet, but his family is working on it.

        • MichaelA

          leaving you one kidney is a very nice gesture
          cultured and reasonable people the chinese

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Indeed. The dwarf would take both!

          • zorbatheturk

            If you wear a Falun Gong T-shirt they remove both your kidneys.

    • Dirk Smith

      Looks like Bunga-Bunga pedophile weekend in Sochi. I’m sure Berlusconi, Blatter, Schroeder, and Sarkozy will also be present.

      • Dagwood Bumstead

        Blatter and Papa Bunga Berlusconi are 80 and no longer capable of “performing”. Gazprom Gerd is 72 and a borderline case (both physically and mentally). Sarkozy is 62 and younger than the dwarf but as far as I know he isn’t into little boys or girls, only big girls, so he would feel out of place at a party at the dwarf’s palace (nicknamed St. Putinsburg) near Sochi.

      • zorbatheturk

        It’s open house. Anybody know how to hotwire a B2 Stealth?

  • Alex George

    Violating Kuropaty – wow, Lukashenka has a death wish it seems .

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Lukashenko could probably have gotten away with the tax by cancelling it, but allowing construction of ANY kind at Kurapaty is the absolute height of stupidity. I thought Luka was smarter but it would seem that he has spent too much time with Pedo Putolini, and the dwarf’s lunacy has somehow been transferred to Luka. Does he WANT to end in exile like Proffessor Viktor???? Or in the local jail????

      • slavko

        I’m curious… what if Lukashenko rolls back on both the taxes AND the construction at Kurapaty? Doesn’t he then become more “of and for the people” especially at a time that Putin is breathing down his neck?

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          I’m not sure. The tax gaffe is one thing, but Lukashenko even SUGGESTING construction at Kurapaty is quite another. I don’t think Luka wil be easily forgiven for this one. It’s like Proffessor Viktor suggesting building at Bykivnia- which he fortunately never did. Bykivnia and Kurapaty are pretty much national shrines now. Bykivnia is also important for Poland as some of the Polish officers murdered on Stalin’s orders at Katyn and elsewhere in 1940 were shot at Bykivnia.

          • slavko

            This is an interesting news article regarding the discontent. Note the last paragraph and all of a sudden it reminds me of what happened in Ukraine and kicked off Putin’s fake civil war in Donbas.

            “In the night before February 23, a group of 15 masked men attacked the camp of the Kurapaty defenders with wooden bats. They destroyed the camp with the shouts “White Race!” and “Glory Russia!”, and injured one of the activists, Ales Kirkevich, having hit him in the temple with a wooden bat.”

            https://charter97.org/en/news/2017/2/24/241926/

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Shades of the titushki employed by Proffessor Viktor during his dictatorship….. er, presidency to assault opponents- opposition politicians, journalists who investigated PV and his allies, those who demonstrated against PV etc etc.
            Those defending Kurapaty would be well advised to arm themselves with baseball bats, clubs etc of their own. This will only get worse.

  • laker48

    Disgusting! Where’s the slimy bottom of the cesspool Lukashenka is racing to?