Today is Dziady in Belarus, which is both a Slavic feast day and the day Belarusians commemorate hundreds of thousands killed in Stalin’s Great Purge during Soviet control of the nation.
Not long before the collapse of the Soviet Union, historian Zianon Pazniak revealed the extent of the executions in the Kurapaty forest near the capital city, Minsk.
At least 30 000 people were killed in Kurapaty between 1937 and 1941, but some estimates put the number as high as 250 000.
People who attended the first commemoration – in 1988 – were attacked by the police, and to this day Kurapaty is not publicly mentioned by the pro-Russian government (run since the 1990s by dictator Alexander Lukashenko).
Pazniak fled the country in 1996 and was granted political asylum in the United States.
These images were taken in Amsterdam on the 9th of June, 1960. The Bolshoi Ballet arrives in the Netherlands for an international tour.
The Soviets believed nobody could surpass them in the arts, however dancers of the Bolshoi (Moscow) and Kirov (Saint Petersburg) companies were not always allowed to leave the USSR. Some dancers defected, while others were considered unsuitable, such as superstar Maya Plisetskaya, a Lithuanian Jew whose family faced heavy persecution in Russia.