Russians to Putin: We won’t forget Stalin’s crimes

The Daily Beast reports: From the early morning into the late night, thousands of Muscovites poured into Lubyanka Square, home of the former KGB, now the FSB.

The protest, devoted to naming the victims of Stalin’s “Great Terror,” has taken place on Lubyanka every October for the last nine years. Russians pay tribute to the one million people executed by the Soviet regime in 1937 and 1938, including more than 40,000 people killed in Moscow alone. But never before has Moscow seen so many people willing to participate in the memorial as last week.

Each participant had a piece of paper in hand with the names of two victims, their ages, professions, and dates of execution. There were 40,000 names all together. Shivering in the cold, damp wind, Tatyana Lokshina, the Russia program director and a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, waited in line to make her point: The victims were killed secretly and now the time had came to speak their names out loud. Lokshina’s piece of paper said: “Alexander Smirnov, 51, an ordinary collective farmer, was executed by shooting on July 10, 1938; Aleksey Smirnov, 67, a senior security guard at a savings bank in the Ukhtomsky region, was executed by shooting on February 17, 1938.”

Lokshina’s husband, Alexander Verkhovsky, had also been waiting in line to read his two names for almost three hours. The protest on Lubyanka Square was symbolically important for Lokshina and thousands of other Russian families. “The KGB secretly executed hundreds of thousands of people, as if on a death conveyer, depriving victims of their lives and the victims’ families of their right to remember,” she said. “By our collective readings of names, we return their memory to Moscow residents.”

To many Russians, Moscow is a big monument of mass terror with Lubyanka Square at its heart. Nowadays, Moscow’s dark history is hidden underneath layers of luxurious hotels, restaurants, bars, beautiful public parks with WiFi and bike trails. But the shadows still exist in people’s memories. [Continue reading…]

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