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09 April 2021, 12:18

Criminal proceedings opened over genocide of Belarus' people during WW2

Andrei Shved. Photo courtesy of the Prosecutor General's Office
Andrei Shved. Photo courtesy of the Prosecutor General's Office

MINSK, 9 April (BelTA) – The Prosecutor General's Office has launched a criminal case to investigate the genocide of the population of Belarus during the Great Patriotic War and in the post-war period, Prosecutor General Andrei Shved told reporters, BelTA has learned.

“It is well known that last year Belarus faced an attempt to seize power by unconstitutional means. An aggressive policy is still being pursued against our state, with attempts to overthrow the rule of law using various forms of radicalism and extremism. In the course of the investigation of a number of criminal cases, it was found that these encroachments on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belarus were orchestrated and financed by some Western European states, including those involved in the mass killings of Belarusians and representatives of other ethnicities during the Great Patriotic War and in the post-war period. At the same time, the same states launched an information war aimed at misrepresenting historical events. To restore social and historical justice, eliminate white spots in history, strengthen the constitutional order and national security, I have initiated a criminal case on the fact of the genocide of the population of Belarus,” Andrei Shved said.

According to him, this decision was prompted by information about the murder of millions of Belarusians and other persons by German invaders and their accomplices. “Moreover, the public knows little about some incidents of genocide committed by nationalist gangs or accomplices of the fascists. This, in turn, creates a fertile ground for their glorification and encourages attempts to destroy the values ​​that are the pillars of the Belarusian statehood. Impunity paves the way for new crimes. Launching criminal proceedings to investigate the atrocities against the civilian population of Belarus is an important stage in countering the rehabilitation of Nazism. At the same time, the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide established that persons accused of committing genocide should face justice in the country on which territory the crime was committed. Genocide has no statute of limitations,” the prosecutor general said.

The criminal process launched by the Prosecutor General's Office will allow identifying persons from among the German invaders and their accomplices who escaped justice for the murder of civilians, humiliation and torture in concentration camps and ghettos, and for forcing civilians into German slavery. “The perpetrators of the genocide who are still alive must be held duly accountable. The deceased war criminals should also be named. During the criminal proceedings, the prosecutor's office will take advantage of international agreements on the provision of legal assistance, including the search, interrogation and possible extradition of the accused,” Andrei Shved emphasized.

The investigation team is to go through a lot of archival documents, thousands of criminal cases against Nazi criminals. Many studies will be related to discovered mass graves. Work will continue to identify living witnesses of the genocide, to protect their rights and legitimate interests, and perpetuate the memory of the victims.

“The General Prosecutor's Office is already receiving appeals from people whose relatives fell victim to the Nazis and their accomplices. They request to investigate the facts of murders and barbarities committed in Belarus. In this regard, I urge all citizens of Belarus and other countries to send us information, materials, statements about the facts of genocide of their relatives and friends during the specified period of time. This will help establish the truth and recognize the descendants of the deceased as victims of the crime and thus realize their rights and legal guarantees. We also inform you that during the investigation, we plan to arrange excavations in the places of mass extermination of people. It seems necessary to encourage various government agencies, public associations, the patriotic youth and volunteers to join the investigation team,” he said.

Information obtained during the criminal investigation will make it possible to request international organizations to recognize Belarus as a victim of genocide, to thwart attempts to devalue historical facts. The findings of the investigation can be used for educational and awareness raising purposes. The study of the genocide of Belarusian people should be made part of all mandatory educational programs, as it will help preserve the continuity between generations and perpetuate the memory of the fallen.

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