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Arseny Roginsky: “There is not even a memorial to them…”

Source: (info), 20/01/12

· Freedom of conscience  · Human rights defenders  · Human rights education  · Moscow city & Moscow region  · Victims of political repression

The Russian Memorial Historical, Educational and Human Rights Society has made a public appeal for a resolution to the issue of how the victims of political repression buried at Moscow’s Donskoy Monastery should be commemorated. “From the beginning of the 1930s the bodies of those shot were cremated in the crematorium of the Donskoy cemetery. Their ashes were thrown into holes together with other unwanted ashes. About 10,000 were shot. And there is not even a memorial to them. We must do all we can to commemorate the victims of the terror,” Arseny Roginsky, head of Memorial, said on 20 January 2012.

The newspaper Moskovsky komsomolets reported that the Russian Orthodox Church intends to reclaim the territory of the now closed cinerarium of the crematorium at the Donskoy Monastery.

The Moscow Patriarchy denied that this was the case.

“The Donskoy Monastery in no way lays claim to the territory of the New Donskoy Cemetery. We are absolutely not against the cinerarium being used for its intended purpose, in other words we do not object to new burials being made there,” the head of the legal service of the Patriarchate, the nun Kseniya (Chernega) told Interfax-Religion on 20 January 2012.

“It all began at the end of the autumn of last year when the relatives of the deceased whose urns with ashes are buried in the cemetery of the former Donskoy crematorium at the Donskoy Monastery’s New Cemetery began appealling to the state-run funeral service and the those concerned about the future of the cemetery. On the gravestones notices were posted notices asking that people obtain information from the administration of the cemetery. And relatives were already being told that, in all likelihood, in the near future the urns with ashes would be moved,” Moskovsky komsomolets wrote.

Arseny Roginsky said that the Church could seek to get the closed cinerarium moved on the grounds that it should not be located within the church.

He pointed out that the church of Serafim Sarovsky and Anna Kashinskaya on the territory of the New Donskoy Cemetery, which was consecrated in 1914, functioned only a few years. Under the Soviet regime the church was closed, and at the beginning of the 1920s they began to reorganize it as a crematorium.

“The crematorium was formally opened on 25 October 1927. In the cellar were built stoves, in the left chantry and a little to the right a cinerarium was built. The crematorium functioned until the middle of the 1970s. In the 1990s the building was given back to the Church. Now in the bulding of the church, in this very building remain urns with ashes,” the historian Arseny Roginsky said.

“The Church, apparently, is seeking the removal of the urns from the closed cinerarium and the freeing of the building of the church. Many of the descendants are reacting with indignation. They are saying, ‘Don’t touch them.’ They say that the urns have been in the now closed cinerarium for more than 50 years,” the head of Memorial said.

“An important and complex history lies behind all of this. For several years the building was a church, then for many decades it functioned as a place for remembrance and burial, then the building once again belonged to the Church. Can all these years just be wiped out? I don’t think so. There is a central location with the altar where church services are held, and there is the location of the closed cinerarium. The building itself, of course, belongs to the Church, but the secular, sad part of its history must be preserved”, Arseny Roginsky said..

He urged that attention be paid to the fact that in the New Donskoy Cemetery in Moscow there are three large mass graves, in which are buried the victims of the Stalinist repressions. 

A song by Aleksandr Gorodnitsky

And the Donskoy Monastery wears its winter adornments.
In the Donskoy Monastery the Russian nobility are sleeping.
Commanding the snowstorm,
On the other side of the wall, like twins,
New blocks of flats.
The counts dream of their palaces,
And the countesses dream of the sleigh bells
Their best-loved horses wear.

In the Donskoy Monastery it is time for the birds’ to depart.
In the Donskoy Monastery the Russian nobility are sleeping.
They doze, despite the noises,
Near and far,
The shouts beyond the wall -
The old gentlemen in waiting,
The cavaliers and the sailors,
And the poet Yazykov.

Ah, the dead century of ballads, the century of hussars, of honour,
Pushkin’s Queens of Spades sleep with their Hermans.
Beneath a Moscow that does not sleep,
Beneath the green grass,
The century that ended its hundred-year term
Without any World War,
Without all the hustle and bustle of the world,
Sleeps and does not judge us.

The leaves are falling in the monastery, here is autumn: Welcome!
In the Donskoy Monastery the Russian nobility are sleeping.
The twentieth century is dawning.
It’s rain warm in September,
Leaves flying in the air,
And in the Donskoy Monastery
The Russian nobility
Are sleeping sweetly in the dawn.


А в Донском монастыре зимнее убранство.
Спит в Донском монастыре русское дворянство.
Взяв метели под уздцы,
За стеной, как близнецы,
Встали новостройки.
Снятся графам их дворцы,
А графиням бубенцы
Забубённой тройки.

А в Донском монастыре время птичьих странствий.
Спит в Донском монастыре русское дворянство.
Дремлют, шуму вопреки,
И близки и далеки
От граничных криков
И поэт Языков.

Ах, усопший век баллад, век гусарской чести,
Дамы Пиковые спят с Германами вместе.
Под бессонною Москвой,
Под зелёною травой
Спит и нас не судит
Век, что век окончил свой
Без войны без мировой.
Без вселенских сует!

Листопад в монастыре, вот и осень здравствуй!
Спит в Донском монастыре русское дворянство.
Век двадцатый на дворе.
Тёплый дождик в сентябре,
Лист летит в пространство,
А в Донском монастыре
Сладко спится на заре
Русскому дворянству.
Rights in Russia,
20 Jan 2012, 14:14