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Renovated Memorial unveiled in Kuropaty

22 January 2002

The ceremony of unveiling the renewed memorial "From the U.S. people to the people of Belarus" took place January 15 in the suburb of Kuropaty near Minsk. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Belarus Michael Kozak thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus for assistance. "The frozen landscape, distant location and Christmas time are the obstacles, which we could not have overcome but with their help", Mr. Kozak said.

The diplomat emphasized, the U.S. Embassy "was shocked at the news that Bill Clinton's gift - the memorial bench - had been damaged by vandals". However, "we were glad to learn that the memorial sign had been rescued and repaired by its designer, Ales Shaternik, and did his best to put it back to its place".

According to the Ambassador, "a lot of innocent people were killed at this place; they are victims of the then-ruling authorities, many of them worked for those authorities". Mr. Kozak specially emphasized, "those who ask why my country is so concerned about the types of government in other countries may find the answer in places like this", like Kuropaty. "After the tragedy of September 11th we were grateful for the words of compassion and sorrow coming from Belarus", Mr. Kozak said. "When we remember those who died, we must remind ourselves that our deeds will also be judged some day", the U.S. Ambassador stated.

In turn, Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Alexander Sychev pointed out that people of Belarus remember the day of January 15th as the time when 8 years ago a memorial "From the U.S. people to the people of Belarus" was erected in Kuropaty. According to him, "the country remembers this day as an important date in Belarus-American relations". The 1994 visit of the U.S. president to Belarus was one of the most important stages in bilateral relations of the states. "Today, now that the monument in memory of victims of Stalin's genocide has been restored, we declare that our nations belong to one civilization and share the same values". Mr. Sychev said that the people of Belarus and America are firmly against and resolutely resist totalitarianism and terrorism. "This unity of views and approaches is the pledge of good bilateral relations", the deputy minister noted.

The ceremony was attended by foreign ambassadors and well-known politicians. The memorial emblem was erected in Kuropaty, the place where Stalin's victims are buried, on January 15, 1994, the then president of the United Stated Bill Clinton participated in the unveiling ceremony. In summer 2001, the emblem was damaged by vandals.

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