October 29, 2018 / 6:50 PM / a year ago

Belarusians commemorate victims of mass execution under Stalin

Crosses are seen during a "Night of the executed poets" event at a mass grave in Kuropaty on the outskirts of Minsk, October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

MINSK (Reuters) - Belarusians gathered in Minsk on Monday to commemorate more than 100 people, including 22 writers and poets, who were executed by the NKVD secret service on Oct. 29, 1937 during Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge.

The 100 victims, many of them from the Belarusian intelligentsia, were among between 600,000 and 1.5 million people in then-Soviet Belarus who were swept up in Stalin’s mass repression of dissent that came to a head in 1937.

At a discrete memorial event on Monday, about 20 people lit candles next to the Minsk headquarters of the KGB security service, the present-day successor to the NKVD.

In a separate memorial event, several dozens gathered at an execution site used by the NKVD in a wooded area on the Belrusian capital’s outskirts that is now marked by dozens of wooden crosses.

Belarusians read poems as they stood near the crosses decorated with burning candles.

Similar memorial events were being held in other parts of the former Soviet Union to mark an unofficial day of remembrance for victims of Stalinist repression.

Reporting by Vasily Fedosenko; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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