This website has already published excerpts from Irina Flige‘s 2019 book about Sandarmokh: The Search for Sandarmokh. What follows is from a review in the January 2020 issue of Novy mir, the literary magazine (Moscow).
“Two themes run through Irina Flige’s book,” writes Tatyana Bonch-Osmolovskaya. “One is the quest, pursued across many years, for the ‘lost transport’, a search to locate 1,111 inmates of the Solovki Special Prison who vanished in October 1937.” The other theme, which “embraces and deepens the first”, describes Sandarmokh today, as a place of commemoration and remembrance.
Russian historian Yury DMITRIEV turned 64 on 28 January 2020. It was his third birthday detained on charges that bear no scrutiny, and, writes Halya Coynash, his arrest coincided with the beginnings of a campaign to rewrite the history of one of the darkest pages of the Soviet Terror – the mass killing by quota of Russians, Ukrainians and other prisoners of the Solovetsky Archipelago at the Sandormokh Clearing in Karelia in 1937.
Yury Dmitriev in April 2018; the entrance to the Sandormokh memorial complex
If the current regime in Russia was hoping to silence Dmitriev, it has failed. The historian and head of the Karelian branch of the Memorial Society has just published a book entitled Sandarmokh: A Place of Memory, providing information about both the victims and the perpetrators of the mass executions in the forest.
“Unacceptable and inhuman methods have been deployed: pressure on Dmitriev’s adopted daughter; manipulation of the child’s consciousness in order to get her to testify against a person close to her,” say two hundred prominent Russians who have come out in defence of Yury DMITRIEV, writes Halya Coynash.
The authors of the appeal, posted on 28 October, note that the Karelian investigators and prosecutors were not merely unwilling to recognize that their behaviour and the charges against Dmitriev had been unlawful. They got the first acquittal revoked and then added even more serious charges, this time of ‘violent acts of a sexual nature’ which could carry a 20-year sentence.
On 19 August 2019, when the barbarous excavations of the Military History Society were well under way, a large group of students from the Moscow International Film School arrived at Sandormokh. They brought with them 16 unique plaques they had made themselves, listing those shot and buried there, from first Solovki transport and the prisoners of the White Sea-Baltic camp complex.
On 29 October 2018, the annual “Restoring the Names” ceremony took place in Moscow, despite previous uncertainties. That day and the next, similar events took place in 19 other Russian towns and cities (and in several foreign cities as well).
In many more places, including Sandarmokh and Krasny Bor in Karelia, the 30 October was marked as the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Political Repression. At the Zaretsky churchyard in Petrozavodsk and at Krasny Bor on the city outskirts, complained his daughter Katya, there was no mention of Yury DMITRIEV.