The contest over the form remembrance should take, on what date and in which location, is a crucial part of the Dmitriev Affair.
At its heart lies the 5 August Day of Remembrance at Sandarmokh, which is inextricably linked with Yury DMITRIEV and a memorial complex unlike any other. Since 2017 Dmitriev has been prevented from attending the event there.
Meanwhile, a concerted attempt was made in many parts of Russia in 2017 to wrest control from the informal groups who have presided for years over commemorative gatherings elsewhere on 30 October. This was notably the case at Krasny Bor, a major killing field not far from Petrozavodsk, where in Dmitriev’s absence his daughter Katya resisted an official takeover.
Moscow and beyond
In 2018 the Moscow authorities made an unsuccessful attempt to move the 29 October event (“Restoring the Names”) away from the Solovki Stone, and FSB headquarters, to the new Wall of Sorrow.
A pre-Covid survey of 411 burial grounds and commemorative sites across Russia found that 173 ceremonial events were held each year at such places of remembrance. In some cases, e.g. Sandarmokh, Katyn, or Nizhny Novgorod, more than one annual event took place at the same memorial. Some marked events from the Civil War era (13), others were established and organised by the Russian Orthodox Church (21). By far the most common (103) was the semi-official Remembrance Day for the Victims of Political Repression on 30 October.
Laying flowers on 30 October 2021 at burial site near Severodvinsk (Arkhangelsk Region)
5 — Day of Remembrance at Sandarmokh, since 1998. This marks the date in 1937 when the Great Terror began.
30 — Remembrance Day for the Victims of Political Repression, an official date since 1991. Marked in Moscow at the Solovki Stone. Itself erected on 30 October 1990, for months until August 1991 it stood opposite the statue to Cheka founder Felix Dzerzhinsky.
Unofficial Day of the Political Prisoner in the USSR (1974-1990)
- “Day of Remembrance” at Krasny Bor, nr. Petrozavodsk (since 1998), and many other places
- 2017 — Unveiling of “Wall of Sorrow” in Moscow, official monument to the “Victims of Political Repression”
4 — Day of National Unity, an official date since 2005.
7 — “The Great October Socialist Revolution”. Not an official holiday since the late 1980s although current school textbooks in the Russian Federation refer to the historical event as the “Great Russian Revolution”.