Zianon Pazniak, the leader of Conservative Christian Party (CCP), delivered a message, where he supports the recent statement made by Yury Belenki, CCP Deputy Chairman.
It was rainy and chilly; however, more than fifty people with white-red-white flags, CCP banners and signs gathered near Loshytsa Park. Riot police arrived earlier, with two police vans and a bus full of plainclothes police.
Valery Buival, CCP Executive Secretary read out an address by Zianon Pazniak, in which the CCP leader, who is in emigration since 90s, emphasized the sacred importance of Dziady for Belarusians and supported his deputy Yury Belenki. Recently the statement made by Yury Belenki at the rally to Kurapaty provoked hot debate in the Belarusan society. Yury Belenki said then: “Remember, if you speak Russian, you are in the army of occupation and shooting at your people”. Belenki expressed hope that Belarusians would have enough inner strength to defend their home country. This can be done through “preserving love for the Belarusian language and culture in our souls,” he said.
The procession sanctioned by the Minsk city government, but accompanied by plainclothesmen, ran from the Loshytsa Culture Palace and ended with a flower-laying ceremony in Loshytsa Park, a Stalin-era massacre site.
At the end of the ceremony, participants sang together "Mahutny Bozha" (Oh, Lord Almighty), a Belarusian-language religious anthem. A man was arrested by plainclothesmen at a public bus stop following the ceremony for apparently wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogans “For Belarus without Dictatorship” and “For Belarus without Lukashenka.” As Mr. Belenki told BelaPAN, at the beginning of the procession, he advised the man to take off the T-shirt, but the man, who identified himself as Leanid Smowzh, a resident of Stowbtsy, Minsk region, refused, saying that he was thus expressing his opinion.
Dziady was an ancient Slavic feast to commemorate the dead held twice every year (in the spring and autumn). In Belarus, Dziady were usually held on the last Saturday before St. Dmitry's day, end of October/beginning of November.
Since 1988 the Belarusian Popular Front initiated the revival of the tradition in Belarus. In addition, this day a rally to Kurapaty is arranged, in the memory of the victims of Soviet political repressions. The initiative was met with strong opposition from the communist administration of the country. The tradition is still continued by the BPF and other movements in Belarus.