WHY DMITRIEV? (1)

In 2002, five years after the tragic death of Ivan Chukhin, Yury DMITRIEV published the Commemorative Lists of Karelia. This Book of Remembrance named 14,308 individuals — most of them shot (11,275); others sent to the Gulag (1,958). The task on which Chukhin and Dmitriev had embarked almost a decade earlier was completed.

Why we should admire Yury Dmitriev

Police investigator and Duma deputy Chukhin also gained access to detailed execution reports in the local FSB archives. These indicated the approximate location of thirteen execution and burial sites scattered across Karelia.

Most were small but two were of particular size and importance. Over 3,000 had been shot, “near Petrozavodsk”, the capital of Karelia. The other site, “near the Medvezhya Gora rail station”, accounted for several thousand more and was located not far from the headquarters of the White Canal camp system (Belbaltlag). Shortly after Chukhin’s death, Dmitriev together with Irina Flige and the late Veniamin Joffe found and identified the killing field near Med Gora, today famous as Sandarmokh. Soon afterwards locals led him to a similar site 20 miles from Petrozavodsk: this became the Krasny Bor memorial complex.

30 October 2021, Krasny Bor

Dmitriev’s achievements could not be gainsaid. Russian and foreign awards followed: in 2005 he was given the new Golden Pen of Russia award; in 2015 he was awarded Poland’s Gold Cross of Merit; and in November 2016, the month before his arrest, he received the Honorary Diploma of Karelia, the highest award in the gift of the head of that Republic.

Why the FSB hates and detests him

Long before 2016 there were signs of official irritation with what Dmitriev did and said.

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Sergei Prudovsky vs. the FSB

Whilst we wait for the Supreme Court to continue its hearing of the case against the Memorial Society, and to decide whether it will make any response to Yury DMITRIEV’s appeal (19 October 2021), the court will today consider the case brought against the FSB by researcher Sergei Prudovsky.

Thwarted by the Tula and Ivanovo Region departments of the FSB in his pursuit of access to files and names from 80 years ago, Prudovsky is demanding a clear response to two questions:

  • Does the FSB consider itself the successor to the Stalin-era NKVD?
  • Can it lawfully conceal the identity of those NKVD officers who carried out the Great Terror in 1937-1938?

He will be supported in court by Memorial lawyer Marina Agaltsova.

Sergei B. Prudovsky and Memorial Society casefiles

Exactly a year ago the judicial board of the First Appeal Court (Central Region) ruled that the rank, title, surname and signatures of the Moscow Region’s NKVD officers at the time were a State Secret. This was specifically in reference to officers Yakubovich, Sorokin and Wolfson who had fabricated criminal charges, and used unlawful means (application of force and brutality) in the conduct of their investigations. They were subsequently convicted of such behaviour and had not since been rehabilitated.

I wonder, Prudovsky added then: could this decision itself be qualified under Article 316 of the RF Criminal Code, “Concealment of a crime”?

JC

Deported, Rearrested, Imprisoned, Shot

The information gathered in the 1990s in Russia’s Books of Remembrance about “victims of political repression” mainly derives from the records of the Soviet police and security services.

Even that thin evidence provides glimpses of human suffering that are shocking both in scale and persistence. These examples from the 1930s begin with the forced collectivization of agriculture and end with the Great Terror.

SHOT

Andrian Avdeyenko, an independent peasant farmer, was shot in 1931 (aged 29). He was born and worked in the Yedogon village, Irkutsk Region. Arrested in April 1930, he was charged under Article 58 with “armed uprising” and “the organisation of counter-revolutionary activities”. The OGPU troika sentenced him to death and on 22 January 1931 Avdeyenko was shot in Irkutsk.

Daniil A. Yepifantsev (1889-1933 shot) did not resist collectivization and joined a collective farm (kolkhoz). Nevertheless, he was arrested in 1932 and shot the next year, leaving behind a 41-year-old wife and seven children aged 2-17.

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Those who did not return

“I would like to recall them all by name,
but they’ve taken the list, there’s no way to find out”

Anna Akhmatova wrote Requiem, from which this famous couplet is taken, over almost thirty years (1935-1961). In Russia the poem could not be published in full until 1987.

Nikolai Gumilyov, Anna Akhmatova and their son Lev (1915)

Her first husband, fellow poet Nikolai Gumilyov, was shot on trumped-up charges in 1921 [47-01]. Their son Lev was twice arrested and sent to the camps, during the Great Terror and again in 1949. Her third husband Nikolai Punin died in August 1953 [11-23], a few months after Stalin, in the hospital of a labour camp complex in northwest Russia.

As she was well aware, Akhmatova was giving voice to millions who suffered a similar ordeal. When she died in 1966 Khrushchev’s brief and ambivalent “Thaw” had come to an end. For the next twenty years there would be silence about the crimes of the 1920s-1950s; any discovered remains were hastily reburied or moved elsewhere [42-08]. Not until the late 1980s did the rehabilitation of the “victims of political repression” under Stalin (and Lenin) resume.

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