Minsk

Also known as the Moscow Cemetery due to its position on the main road out of Minsk in the direction of the Russian capital, this must-see, 23-hectare masterpiece was opened in 1952 near the site of a burial ground containing German soldiers from WWII. The final resting place of Belarus’ finest figures from politics, the arts and other high-ranking professions, a stroll around the place, especially with the help of a local guide, is a veritable lesson in recent Belarusian history. Notable graves among the many include those of former First Secretary of the Belarusian Communist Party Petr (Pyotr) Masherov (1918-1980), the writers Vasil Bykov (1924-2003) and Vladimir Korotkevich (1930-1984), the sculptor Zair Azgur (1908-1995), the Soviet partisan Elena Mazanik, who assassinated the infamous Nazi controller of occupied Belarus, Wilhelm Kube and figures from more popular spheres of life, among them Sverdlovsk/Ekaterinburg-born Vladimir Mulyavin (1941-2003), founder of the immensely popular Soviet-era folk-rock group Pesniary, and the former captain of the Belarusian ice hockey team Ruslan Salei (1974-2011) who lost his life and the lives of the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team who Salei was playing for at the time when a Yakovlev Yak-42 destined for Minsk crashed on take off. The cemetery, which also features an extraordinary collection of Jewish graves, was officially closed for burial in 2003 although it continues to function under special circumstances. To get there, take the Moskovskaya metro line to Vostok station and follow the main road out of the city. The cemetery is on the north side of the road and is impossible to miss.

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