For the last 11 years the ceremony of Restoring the Names has been held each year in Moscow on 29 October at the Solovki Stone on Lubyanka Square. Several thousand people queue up to read out the name of someone who was executed during the Great Terror of the late 1930s in a moving event that takes many hours.
29 October 2017, Lubyanka Square, Moscow
On Friday 19 October, the Moscow city authorities suddenly withdrew permission to hold this year’s ceremony in its traditional location, next to FSB headquarters, claiming that ongoing construction and restoration work made the site unsuitable.
“They made a road to Koirankangas from Rzhevka. From our hill we could see clearly: a vehicle went there and then it stopped. A minute passed, perhaps, and then shots were heard. We avoided going that way. Everyone knew they were shooting people there. Murdered people were found there.”
Anni Arikainen (b. 1918), Kuivozi, Vsevolozhsky district,
Leningrad Region (recorded in 1990).
“A place of execution”
(photo, Sergei Strukov)
“We children found a man in the woods. He was lying on the ground; it was clear he couldn’t walk. He saw us and said something, but we couldn’t understand. We didn’t know what to do. We weren’t strong enough to drag him anywhere – and where we would take him? We made him a shelter of branches, brought him something to drink and, from what we could find, food to eat. We told our parents nothing. The next day we returned, and he was there. The third day we came, and he was gone. Either he got away or they had found him.”
Mikko Vanganen (b. 1921), Kuivozi,
Leningrad Region (recorded in 1994).
“Recently, for one reason and another, I’ve visited different villages in Russia,” writes Yury MIKHAILIN (an administrator of the Dmitriev Supporters’ Facebook page). “In many of them there stands a memorial to soldiers who died in the Great Patriotic War [1941-1944] and in almost every case it is not simply a monument. Names are carved on a plaque, recalling those who left the village to fight at the Front and never came back.
“In each of these villages, I have been thinking, there is a similar list of those who were arrested in the 1930s and also never returned.”
Mikhailin’s words were prompted by the comments made by Tatyana KOSINOVA in a video clip just posted (21 September) on YouTube:
director of Cogita publishers and
staff member of the Memorial Research Centre
A lengthy article about the POW execution theory in Russia’s Kommersant newspaper (7 September 2018) is even-handed and thorough. It needs little more than the following passage, however, to show the “new hypothesis of Karelian historians” for what it is:
“Officially, there is no data to show that the Finns carried out mass executions at Sandarmokh. Mr Verigin also confirmed for us that Finland has not transferred any information to Russia about sites where shot POWs are buried in Karelia. The historian further confirmed to Kommersant that he has not yet examined Finland’s historical archives”.
Five bodies are discovered, allegedly Soviet POWs shot by the Finns,
during the Continuation War, 1941-1944 (photo, Sergei Markelov)
“The events of the last few weeks have been depressing, but it’s true to say that almost everyone knows the word Sandarmokh today; before it was only known in Karelia. No excavations by the Russian Military Historical Society can change that. Only people who do not see the significance of the subject are inclined to believe that Red Army soldiers lie buried there.”
Yury Mikhailin, Moscow International Film School
As part of the new investigation, Yury Dmitriev was sent to Hospital No 6 in St Petersburg where psychiatrists have been determining whether he is fit to stand trial and has not taken leave of his senses …
On Wednesday, 8 August, he was released from ward No 8 and will now return to Karelia and Detention Centre No 1 in Petrozavodsk. During this period in Petersburg Dmitriev was visited by his daughter Katya, his confessor Grigory Mikhnov-Vaitenko and his lawyer Victor Anufriev, who secured his release in January this year and his acquittal after the trial in April.
Every day of the week, apart from Wednesday, Dmitriev’s supporters have been bringing brought him parcels of food, cigarettes, etc. and making donations to the hospital library: he couldn’t receive books directly, but might take them out of the library if they were there. Around forty people took part in this form of support.
On Thursday, people went to check whether he was now at the Kresty Prison in Petersburg. Dmitriev would pass through the prison before being transported back to Karelia and Detention Centre No 1.
the Dmitriev Affair page on Facebook
(which presently has over 4,900 followers)
Kosinova is the founder and general director
of the Cog!ta publishing house
Three bits of advice that may be of help to those travelling to Petrozavodsk for the hearing tomorrow, writes Maria Ruzina:
- the court hearing on Thursday, 14 June, at 3 pm will take place not on Krasnaya St as we had imagined. Yury Alexeyevich DMITRIEV says it will be held at 27 Kirov Street. That’s where the Supreme Court of Karelia is actually located.
- If you arrive during the night or early mornring, it will be difficult to find a cup of coffee, a bun and wifi. Locals have even told me there are no all-night cafes in the centre of Petrozavodsk.
- In the Brusnika [blueberry] hostel at 34 Antikainen Street, 15 minutes’ walk from the courthouse, a bed in the dormitory costs 420 roubles. It’s clean, quiet and the internet works without interruption. That’s where I’m writing from, in fact.
For those who can’t travel to Petrozavodsk, let’s hold solitary pickets in our towns and cities. All you need is to post a photo showing a placard held up against the local sights. Write on it #Greetings to Dmitriev. What do you think? Are you ready? Natalia Sivohina, St Petersburg.
“Yury Alexeyevich, Petersburg is with you!” (Natalia Sivohina)
On 14 June, writes Inga Prosvetova
, the World Cup opens in Russia and solitary pickets are prohibited. But our heroes can always find a loophole: so far there’s no ban on decorating your clothes with slogans (so long as these exclude obscenities).
If you add them by hand on the morning of 14 June, toothpaste or marker pens will be enough and last the day out on your jeans.
Be careful, warns Natalya Dyomina. A court has just imposed a 10,000 rouble fine for a solitary picket in support of Oleg SENTSOV. The judge was not prepared to listen to any legal argument.
Facebook, 13 June 2018
The day after Xenia At was among a hundred DMITRIEV supporters crowded into the corridor of the Petrozavodsk City Courthouse, she made the trip to Sandarmokh and took these photos.
Late winter in Russia. The snow is still thick on the ground, but the sky has turned from grey to blue.