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!”
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.
In early July 1997, DMITRIEV together with Irina Flige and the late Veniamin Joffediscovered 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.
At the third attempt the appeal made by Yury DMITRIEV and his defence attorney Victor Anufriev against the September 2020 decision of Karelia’s High Court (to increase his sentence to 13 years imprisonment) has been accepted by the Third Cassation Court in St Petersburg. It will now receive the case materials and the various verdicts and decisions reached in the courts of Karelia since 2018.