Fifty years ago, October 12, 1967, in Slutsk, the unbelievable happened by Soviet standards event: an angry mob burned the building of the people’s court. As it was, recalls NFA-Courier EP.
The fire destroyed the judge Alekseeva, and some time later died in hospital one more victim — the senior militia Lieutenant Kristina. 80 soldiers and police officers were injured. Local authorities and the police lost for a time control, allowing the crowd to commit outrages.
How it all began
On the morning of 9 April 1967 in the fountain of the Slutsk city Park was found dead a young man. Killed were working RSU-4 Alexander Nikolaev. The investigation revealed that the injuries he had suffered on the eve of the head of Department of culture of Slutsk Executive Committee, member of the Communist party Gennady Gapanovich and his family Leonid syt’ko. The identity of one of the defendants has caused a wide public resonance. The investigation was not disclosed, and in the absence of information, the situation was overgrown with speculations and rumors, saying that local government covers.
After investigation, the case went to the people’s court of the Slutsk district. The process was scheduled for 10 October 1967. People demanded for criminals the death penalty.
The court is
Wooden courthouse, built by the Germans during the war, which was located on Volodarskogo street (now the street of M. Bogdanovich), could not accommodate all those wishing to attend the trial.
The judge turned to the city authorities with a request to provide more spacious premises. But those refused.
Outside the courthouse people gathered. What happened in the courtroom, on the human chain passed on the street was a kind of “broken telephone”.
The situation heated up and the fact that at the beginning of Nikolaev, the father of the murdered man, challenged the composition of the court. The withdrawal rejected, then the Nikolaev demonstratively left the meeting room under the cheers of the audience.
The next day, October 11, the court gathered more people, and the people all arrived. Came the wife of Gapanovich, which was showered with insults. That, in turn, in debt to left — scored a handful of the sand and stuff in his eyes standing nearby.
There was voices that Gapanovich need to give people, because the court will not get justice.
Escape from court
The third day of the trial began with the surprise. Gapanovich brought to court in a police van, as usual, and on the ambulance. This people have suspected a hidden agenda. And it was that morning one of the inmates of the Slutsk bullpen opened his veins, and his paddy wagon rushed to Minsk so that the necessary machine was not physically available.
As the special vehicle for the entire district was one, had to use the ambulance services. In addition, the people resented the fact that Gapanovich brought into court in full parade-in a suit and tie.
The situation is tense. The district Committee of the PBC to clarify the situation, sent to court the Prosecutor of the area Sevruk F. I. and the Deputy police chief for political Affairs Egorova I. V. during the break of the court session they discussed the situation with the judges Alekseeva G. I. and Gritskevichi A. N. It was decided to continue the process, but finish it in the day before — in 3 hours of the day.
After the meeting police convoy was in no hurry to withdraw defendants from the courthouse, waiting for a caused from Minsk backup. Urgently assembled city leaders, businesses, local activists attempted to go to the scene to carry out explanatory work, but no one listened.
After 17 hours the situation became even more tense. Returning from work have joined the ranks of the protesters. In the courthouse threw stones and stakes.
19 hours in Slutsk arrived, General Rodin, head of Department of the Ministry of public order of the Byelorussian SSR, and with it the division of internal troops. But the soldier was only enough to cordon off the courthouse. Besides, they were unarmed.
The crowd after dark intensified. In the courthouse threw a few bottles of petrol drained from the tanks standing nearby cars. But the flames knocked down with fire extinguishers.
Alex Simenchenko former driver of the paddy wagon, recalls: “During a lull, about 21 hours, I was approached by General Rodin and warned that now will apply special means “Cheremukha”, then withdraw the accused from the courtroom. And he didn’t. But the people rushed to the car. I had only one option — to move forward. At full speed and struck a fence. While went to Central street car has broken — not a whole glass. And I got — broken teeth, broken ribs, damaged spine. Once out on the street, immediately headed for Minsk, as to go in Slutsk bullpen could not”.
All attempts to explain to the people that Gapanovich no longer in the courthouse, even more warmed up the crowd. The beginning of open clashes with the police and soldiers of internal troops. A few people entered the courthouse, he poured gasoline and set it on fire.
The crowd didn’t miss the fire trucks to the building: glass cars was beaten with sticks, threw stones and threatened the drivers. A few people tried to turn the ambulance with the wounded soldiers.
Near the bridge over the Sluch was beaten by the head of the Slutsk garrison, Colonel Skorodumov, who urged the gathered crowd to stop the excesses. By the way, he refused to use a part of the garrison against the population.
Who at this point in the building the judge Alexeyev, Deputy chief of police Egorov, head of the bullpen Tatur, senior inspector of service Borisenok and the district Commissioner Evdokimchik were on the second floor. Men jumped out of the window. Kristina from injuries and carbon monoxide poisoning later died in hospital. The judge Alekseeva left in the building and died in the fire.
Fearing the worst variant of development of events, party and Soviet leaders Sluchchiny gathered in the city Council building where they were guarded by about 20 gunmen.
On the night of 13 October to clarify the circumstances of the case in Slutsk arrived 1-St Secretary of the Minsk regional Committee of the PBC, the Poles, and with him a group of responsible employees of the KGB and MOOP from Moscow and Minsk. Poles and headed the Commission of the Central Committee of the PBC to investigate the causes of the riots.
The investigation has interviewed almost everyone who was in the thick of things. In his possession were photos taken in the area of the courthouse. In the course of the investigation many of the witnesses were defendants. Just a list of active participants in the riots included more than 70 people.
Below is an extract from this list, which stated the surname of the citizen’s personal data and his deeds.
“Citizen K., born in 1942. The combatant. It is aimed to aid in the protection of public order, he took an active part in the riots. Hacked doors of the courthouse, threw them in the fire”.
“Citizen Z., born in 1941. Worker. Beat the three soldiers, was hit twice with a stake in the paddy wagon, in the courthouse participated in the burning of the fire”.
“Citizen, born in 1949. Worker. Threw stones at the courthouse leaked from the vehicle into the bottle of gasoline, broke into the courthouse and there perpetrate arson”.
“Citizen B., born in 1920. Retired. Organized the collection of signatures on the application to the defendants to capital punishment, urged people not to go home”.
“Citizen P., born in 1917. Retired. Engaged in incitement, sprinkled sand in the eyes of the soldiers and police officers”.
“Citizen T., born in 1950. Student. Throwing stones at the Windows and sang the song “burn, burn, campfire, brighter”.
Sentenced to different terms
The trial of the arson of the courthouse began on 2 February 1968 and lasted 24 days. In the dock was 17 people. Two of them — Nicholas Grinyuk and Ivan Popov was sentenced to capital punishment. One acquitted. The others received various terms of imprisonment from 5 to 15 years. Three of those convicted were minors.
Just as different types of responsibility were involved in about 70 rioters in Slutsk.
And Gapanovich and syt’ko was convicted in another city. Gapanovich eight years. Part of the time he spent “in the zone” of Orsha, part on free settlement. After his release, according to some, settled in Baranovichi.
Showdown at the Plenum
Even before the trial on the case about the burning of the courthouse in early December 1967, he held a meeting of the district Committee of the PBC.
In the report of the Plenum stated: “as a result of political short-sightedness and confusion of local authorities and employees of administrative bodies of the district, events, bore the first character of hooligan attacks by individuals commenced substantially in a hostile anti-Soviet actions.” The police chief and the Prosecutor were fired. Several party and Soviet officials were reprimanded by the party. Eventually they were transferred to work in other cities.
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