Некалькі дзён таму на скрыню сайта прыйшоў ліст на ангельскай мове, падпісаны некалькімі асобамі, якія звяртаюцца да ўсіх людзей свету з просьбай аб дапамозе ў выратаванні гістарычнага цэнтру Горадні. Аўтары ліста заяўляюць, што хочуць звярнуцца з ім у міжнародныя арганізацыі па ахове сусветнай гісторыка-культурнай спадчыны.

 We are writing this letter to make an appeal to the world’s intellectuals. We, Belarusian historians, students, and cultural workers, are asking for your help to stop the destruction of the ancient historical city of Hrodna (Grodno) and save its heritage. You are one of our last hopes to preserve its irreplaceable historical monuments.

Nowadays the regional capital of western Belarus, Hrodna, used to be among the most important cities of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In the late 16th century and the late 18th century it was one of the de facto capitals of the Commonwealth, where the country’s Sejms, the parliament sessions, were held. The Polish king and the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Stefan Batory, loved the city and chose it as his royal residence. Those times left their trace in Hrodna in the shape of numerous landmarks, some of them of international importance. The 12th century Kalozskaya church was recommended for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Many of the monuments were destroyed by the Soviets. In the 1960s, part of the historical centre was demolished to build up Lenin square and the late-Gothic Cathedral was blown-up to make space for another square, Sovietskaja. These days Hrodna local authorities, with the consent of the central government, are trying to erase what is left.

The reconstruction of downtown Hrodna is being conducted without proper archaeological observation. Only superficial excavations have been permitted and those covered just a minuscule part of the whole historical area. In the future, historians will have only a small idea of what was destroyed by the bulldozers. Even those landmarks, which have been discovered and can be easily restored, are being demolished. Parts of the foundations of Radziwills’ palace and city hall have been damaged and the old market has just been removed. Some monuments are being restored with inappropriate technologies making them cheap and inaccurate copies of what they used to be.

We tried to find reasonable minds among local officials and sent a collective letter to the city authorities, which was simply disregarded.

Our letter to you is the last desperate resort to save the famed downtown of Hrodna as all other means have been tried and failed. The current government of Belarus largely ignores international public opinion concerning political issues. Yet it still cooperates with international bodies concerning cultural affairs and tries to put on a good face when it comes to the preservation of historical and cultural heritage. For this reason your interference, albeit in the shape of a letter or a phone call, can still deter the authorities from demolishing the monuments of old times.

You may find more information on the destruction of Hrodna at: www.grodnoproblem.km.ru

Please, help us to stop the vandals!

Alesia Sidliarevich (Belarus, History MA)

Bruno Alves (Portugal, Journalist)

Alies’ Biely (Belarus, sales manager)

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