Disquieting News

On 22 April, the Karelian edition of the Rossiya TV Channel’s “Events of the Week” programme included a brief item, mentioning that “this summer” there would be fresh investigations of the burials at  the Sandarmokh memorial complex near Medvezhegorsk.

(For those who know Russian,
the item begins five minutes into this half-hour broadcast)

Periodically, the suggestion that YURY DMITRIEV may have misidentified those buried at Sandarmokh or, rather, that the dead there also include Soviet prisoners of war captured and executed by the Finns in 1941-1944, has been given coverage in State-controlled Russian media and, even, in certain Finnish media outlets. 

On 17 December 2017, Anna Yarovaya reported, at some length, her conversations with Russian and Finnish researchers and the doubts they voiced about the veracity and motives of those promoting a “new” interpretation.


In the late 1990s, in a short piece entitled “A Place of Communist Terror”, Veniamin Joffe and Yury  Dmitriev described the thousands shot and left in the burial pits at Sandarmokh as follows:

“3,500 were inhabitants of Karelia, 4,500 were prisoners working for the White Sea-Baltic Canal, and 1,111 were brought there from the Solovki “special” prison. Alongside hard-working peasants, fishermen and hunters from nearby villages, writers and poets, scientists and scholars, military leaders, doctors, teachers, engineers, clergy of all confessions and statesmen found their final resting place there.”

Thus far, the identification of the victims at Sandarmokh rests mainly on documentary evidence, such as lists of those to be shot and reports by their executioners. Only a few of the 236 burial mounds have been carefully opened, investigated and again covered over.

John Crowfoot
3 May 2018