Sandarmokh bas-relief to be restored

Friends and colleagues of Yury Dmitriev plan to restore the bas-relief “Execution with the Guardian Angel” formerly attached to the monument at Sandarmokh, says his close friend Anatoly Razumov.

Opening of monument, 1998

Opening of Monument, 1998

“The bas-relief is a landmark of Sandarmokh. During the round-table in Medvezhyegorsk on Memorial Day on August 5, the director of the Medvezhyegorsk Museum Sergei Koltyrin recalled how he was informed of the bas-relief collapse, how he inspected the site. The construction, apparently, could not withstand the temperature drops, due to the “fatigue” of a nine year fastening. I suggested to establish contacts with the authors and solve the problem of financing the collection of funds, if this is beyond the scope of the Ministry of Culture of Karelia.”

The bas-relief “Execution with the guardian angel” fell from the memorial stone in Sandarmokh in the autumn of 2006. Since that time and up to the present moment the sculpture is stored on one of the production bases of Petrozavodsk.

sandarmokh - guardian angel

Monument intact (photo, Kandalaksha+)

According to the State Committee of Karelia on protection of cultural heritage objects, the bas-relief can not be restored.

“In order to implement the restoration of the monument at the expense of the Republic of Karelia, in 2013 the facility was put on the balance of the Republican Center for State Preservation of Cultural Heritage Objects. <…> Specialists of the center calculated the cost of restoration of the bas-relief. <…> The total demand, taking into account contributions to social funds and overheads, is 2,578,500 roubles.”

According to the committee, restoration work can be performed in six months, provided that it will be financed. In 2018, the republic’s budget will include money for completing the reconstruction of four military graves, including memorial Sandarmokh.

Now the initiative group is looking for authors of the work, Sergei Plokhov and Valery Khazov (the third sculptor Grigory Saltup died in 2013), to coordinate the procedure for restoring the monument at the expense of donations, as it is the sculptors who have exclusive copyrights to the bas-relief.

Historian Yuri Dmitriev, accused of making pornographic pictures of his adopted daughter, spoke in favor of restoring the bas-relief in its original form.

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The Sandarmokh Memorial Cemetery is one of the largest burials of victims of mass executions in Northwest Russia during 1937 and 1938.

According to the archives, over a period of 14 months 3,500 residents of Karelia, about three thousand prisoners of the White Sea-Baltic Combine, and 1,111 prisoners of the Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp (the “missing” Solovki transport) were shot there. Representatives of more than 60 nationalities lie buried at Sandarmokh: 2,154 Russians, 762 Finns, 676 Karelians, 493 Ukrainians, 212 Poles, 184 Germans and 89 Belarusians.

The killing field of Sandarmokh was uncovered in July 1997.

As part of the expedition organised jointly with the Venyamin Joffe Foundation (St Petersburg), Yury Dmitriev, Joffe and Irina Flige discovered the mass graves there. In 1998, a Russian Orthodox chapel was built at the cemetery, and the “Execution with the guardian angel” bas relief was at the same time affixed to the massive stone monument at the entrance to the memorial territory.

Anna Yarovaya, «7×7»

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