Remembrance (4), “No smoke without fire?”

The OGPU investigation of the Pokrovsky brothers in summer 1932 helps us put faces to four names. Ivan was executed in Moscow, one death in the maelstrom unleashed by the forced industrialisation of the USSR and the dekulakisation of the countryside. Alexander was shot four years later at Sandarmokh, a victim of the Great Terror.

Ivan’s last resting place was uncovered in the early 1990s by researchers from Memorial working in the Central Archives of the FSB (post-Soviet successor of the Cheka, OGPU, NKVD and KGB). In 1994, a memorial was erected by the entrance to the Vagankovskoe cemetery. It reads: “To the victims of political repression, 1927-1937. May they never be forgotten!”

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Remembrance (1): Lists and Names

Faced by the grim and relentless persecution of Yury DMITRIEV over the last four years, it’s easy to lose sight of the achievements of the past quarter century, those countless acts of remembrance across Russia and former Soviet states that make any simple return to the past unthinkable.

Yury Dmitriev resumes work, 2018

During the 1990s, volunteers all over the former Soviet Union gathered information from a variety of archives; they listed the names of those deported, imprisoned and shot and compiled Books of Remembrance. Today only a few of the Russian Federation’s constituent Regions and Republics lack such a record.

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Unique Tomsk Region Museum safe for this winter at least

The only one of its kind in Russia, the museum in Palochka village in the north of the Tomsk Region opened this August. It is devoted to the memory of over 7,000 forced settlers from southern Siberia who died there in 1931-1933. Partly funded with grants from the presidential administration, it faced fears of closure recently until a crowdfunding campaign raised enough to pay for its prohibitive heating costs.

From mass burials to a museum

In 2018 two local women Irina Yanchenko and Gulnara Koryagina found mass burials of so-called “special” settlers on the outskirts of the village (population 297 in 2017). Archival documents revealed that in 1931 “kulaks” had been brought there on barges down the River Ob from the Altai Region to the south. Two years later only 700 of the 7,800 settlers remained alive: the rest had died from the backbreaking work, from starvation and sickness.

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