On the square outside the former headquarters of the KGB in Moscow, Russians have been reading the names of victims of political killings in Soviet times.

The ceremony Thursday, stretching over 12 hours, comes on the eve of the national day for remembrance of victims of political repression.

Each participant is given the names of two people to read aloud. But the scale of such executions was so enormous that there isn't enough time to read all the names.

Historians estimate a million or more were killed just in the infamous1937-38 purges under Josef Stalin.

Another demonstration was held in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where about 200 activists gathered and protested that repression continues under authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.