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Belarus Jews Slam Planned Construction At Cemetery

(JTA) — In a rare criticism of Belarusian authorities, leaders of the Jewish community of that country said they were “concerned” over plans to build apartments atop what used to be a Jewish cemetery in Gomel.

The statement given earlier this week to JTA by the Union of Public Associations and Jewish Communities in Belarus is unusual for that country, which is sometimes referred to as “Europe’s last dictatorship” over the authoritarian rule of its president, Alexander Lukashenko.

The Aug. 21 ruling by the Tsentralny District Court was on a motion for an injunction submitted by Yakov Goodman, a Jewish-American activist for the preservation of Jewish heritage sites in his native Belarus who is outspoken in his criticism of the Lukashenko regime.

The Jewish union “is closely monitoring the situation in Gomel and is constant touch with representatives of the local Jewish community,” the organization’s statement also read.

The last burial that took place at the cemetery happened before 1885, and most human remains “are likely gone as a result of previous construction — if they there were in this location to begin with,” the union also said.

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