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Russians commemorate victims of political repression

Posted by Kris Roman on October 30, 2008


Russians gathered at ceremonies across the country on Thursday to remember the victims of the political repression, including the Great Purge of 1937-1938.

The memorial events are part of the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Political Repression, but despite the official recognition human rights activists are worried that many Russians still have a positive view of Joseph Stalin.

Ilya Yashin, leader of Youth Yabloko, one of Russia’s best-known youth political movements, said the current problems were rooted to the 1930s and “mostly relate to Stalin.”

“That was when the fear of the oppressive state system penetrated deep into our conscience,” Yashin said. “I assume the fear is still there.”

He said the 1930s were “the most enormous tragedy,” one that had affected “the nation’s psychology.”

Such views were disputed by Maxim Mishchenko, the leader of another youth movement, Young Russia. He dismissed the fears of rights activists, slamming the “narrow-minded” approach to the Stalinist era.

He described as “falsified” reports that “millions and millions of people” had been imprisoned and accused the victimized elite of maneuvering.

The exact number of those killed or imprisoned during Stalin-era repressions is not known, but Russia’s Memorial human rights group says more than 40,000 people were executed in 1937-1938 alone.

The Soviet Union started rehabilitating the victims of political repression in 1954. The process was later suspended and resumed during Mikhail Gorbachev’s Perestroika.

Russia adopted legislation on the rehabilitation of victims of political repressions in 1991. Prosecutors say more than 600,000 criminal cases have been considered since the law was introduced.


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