“Time may pass – the memory remains”

One of the last interviews Sergei KOLTYRIN, the arrested director of the Medvezhegorsk district museum, gave was to Nastoyashchee vremya, the online TV channel:


(Excerpts from a longer text on the website)

“The death of a person’s reputation is perhaps worse than being actually murdered. After such allegations, the person carries on but with great difficulty. It’s hard to live and not everyone can survive such an upheaval in their lives.

“When we speak about Sandarmokh, we must not forget the people at the time when this vile treatment began, and “undesirables” were eliminated. The free-thinkers, those who thought differently to others, who spoke in a different way and did things differently – they were awkward and undesirable [for the regime].

“The State at that time, and the leadership, did not have a use for such people. It feared them and wanted to get rid of them. Some had built the [White Sea-Baltic] canal. There were certain Party officials who saw further than the ordinary man and recognised the nature of the system. They changed their minds and were also likely to become dispensable: they were Party and Soviet officials who didn’t agree with what a certain group in charge of the Gulag were doing here at that time.

“The best were chosen, we could say. Officers from the White Army, a great many priests, representatives of different nationalities, scientists and scholars, dramatists, writers, poets, doctors and schoolteachers. What for? I don’t understand the reason. Why? Because they couldn’t break them in the camps on Solovki? They endured every form of torture, insult and humiliation, and remained true to themselves and to their beliefs and past deeds. They were singled out for execution.

“It’s hard to talk about it now. It always weighs heavily on me and causes deep pain – what was done then. But we must not keep quiet: we have to speak out. We must realise that the passing of time does not erase the memory. No matter how much some people may want it to do so.”

Nastoyashchee vremya
5 October 2018