In early July 1997, DMITRIEV together with Irina Flige and the late Veniamin Joffe discovered a huge killing field of the Great Terror near Medvezhegorsk in Karelia. Subsequently it became known as Sandarmokh.
Weeks later, in early September, he and Sergei Chugunkov identify the Krasny Bor killing field and burial ground not far from Petrozavodsk, the capital of Karelia.
(see 24 November update, below)
“Putin has given the children of Karelia not a summer camp or a sanatorium (none remain in the republic), nor a polyclinic for children — not one has been built during the past 20 years — but a concentration camp,” writes Emilia Slabunova, Yabloko deputy in the Karelian republic’s legislative assembly.
Vatnavolok village, Kondopoga district
Even before Yury DMITRIEV was arrested in December 2016, an alternative explanation of the mass burials at Sandormokh had appeared (see below, Appendix).
Promoted by two historians at Petrozavodsk University, Sergei Verigin and Yury Kilin, it suggested that among those executed and buried in the forest near Medvezhegorsk were not only victims of Stalin’s Great Terror (1937-1938) but also Red Army soldiers shot by the Finns during the Continuation War (1941-1944).
Recent books about Sandarmokh by Yury Dmitriev and Sergei Verigin
“Twenty years ago, it seemed to us that Sandormokh as a place and these acts of remembrance divided the present from the past,” said Irina FLIGE in August 2017, at the Day of Remembrance at Sandormokh. “Today, unfortunately, we must recognise that memories of the Great Terror have not become part of our [shared] memory …”
The previous year two historians at Petrozavodsk University had put forward a ‘new hypothesis’ as to who lay buried in the woods outside Medvezhegorsk; in the Karelian capital, Yury Dmitriev was spending his eighth month in jail.
It took years to locate Karelia’s largest killing ground of the late 1930s. Irina Flige’s account of that long, painstaking quest is described in her The Search for Sandormokh, which was launched in Moscow in July 2019. At the same press conference the proposed excavations by the Russian Military History Society were exposed and condemned. Meanwhile, Dmitriev, acquitted in April 2018, was on trial for a second time and once again incarcerated in Petrozavodsk’s Detention Centre No 1.
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Soviet prisoners of war were not buried in Sandarmokh, according to information held by Finland’s National Archive.