Who wants to rewrite the history of Sandarmokh—and why?

A memorial graveyard known as Sandarmokh. It is a word without precise meaning or translation: there are only different accounts of its origins. The associations are unmistakable, however. It calls to mind a history of suffering and death.

For many what happened there eighty years ago stirs feelings of horror to this day. Mass executions of political prisoners—more than 7,000 of them in 236 common graves. People whose years in the Gulag ended in 1937-1938, in the forests of eastern Karelia, with a bullet to the back of the head.

Since its discovery in 1997, Sandarmokh has become a place of pilgrimage for the descendants of those killed in Stalin’s Great Terror, for local villagers, for historians and for public figures. An International Day of Remembrance has been held at Sandarmokh every year since then, attended by delegations from various parts of Russia and from abroad.

The “new” hypothesis

Yet in 2016, almost twenty years on, certain Petrozavodsk historians announced that, in addition to those shot in the 1930s, Soviet POWs might have been killed and buried at Sandarmokh during the “Continuation War” with Finland (1941-1944). This suggestion prompted a great debate among academics and was reported in both Russian and Finnish media.  Continue reading

A few suggestions

To followers of the “Dmitriev Affair” [R] Facebook page

Yury Dmitriev is now in Moscow, in custody (temporarily) at Butyrka Prison. He should be transferred after the holidays [on 2 January] to the Serbsky Institute where he will undergo the examination scheduled by the court.

Тhis procedure is expected to take 30 days. The final decision reached by the court will depend on the objectivity of this [psychiatric] assessment. As everyone realises, there are risks involved. There are also now real prospects that Yury Dmitriev will be released.  Continue reading