Red Terror marked in St Petersburg on 5 September 2015

posted 11 Sept 2015, 07:18 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 11 Sept 2015, 07:45 ]
7 September 2015

Source: (info
А commemorative event was organised jointly by St. Petersburg Memorial and the Interior Theatre. A group of people went onto Troitskaya Square and up to the Solovetskaya stone, the memorial to victims of political repression. Artists performed around the stone, playing violins, reading out poetry by Mandelstam and Blok, and quoting from telegrams written by Lenin in which he asked for mass punishments in the form of hangings and shootings.

As Radio Svoboda reports, many people who participated in the event expressed the view that it was crucial to make the truth about the terror under Communism more widely known, as well as ensuring that society really took on board what happened. During a description of the "Red Terror" decree which was issued by the Russian Council of People's Commissars on 5 September 1918, the organisers of the event distributed lists of the 150 people who were shot immediately after the decree was issued.

Vyachislav Dolinin, himself a former political prisoner and historian of Leningrad's samizdat literature, made the following comment: "Unfortunately, the Communist terror has never really been condemned in our society. To this day, many people justify it on the basis that certain things which were achieved during Soviet times were worth the sacrifice of human lives on such a gigantic scale. Russian society split in two after the Revolution and, unfortunately, in the fight between supporters of freedom and supporters of servitude, it was the supporters of servitude who won and who have stayed in power to this day".

"Can such events as this attended by a relatively small number of people make any difference to the situation?"

"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. We have to keep spreading information, bit by bit. History shouldn't be rewritten, history books shouldn't be rewritten – but then, they haven't even been written yet here! And we mustn't just speak about the innocent victims of the terror, but also about those who struggled against them. This experience of struggle is very important to us", Vyachislav Dolinin stressed.

The organisers of the event spread their message via the internet, with the words: "The experience of inhumanity acquired during the Civil War years prepared the ground for subsequent terror campaigns by the Soviet authorities. These campaigns included "dekulakisation", the Great Terror of 1937-1938, the ethnic deportations of the 1940s, the "Leningrad Affair", the "Doctors' plot" and others".

Before the main commemorative event, participants went to the Peter and Paul fortress, where people were shot and buried between 1917 and 1921. There was a memorial ceremony which included a minute's silence and the laying of flowers, reports Radio Svoboda correspondent Tatiana Voltskaya. 

Translated by Suzanne Eade Roberts

Photos by Tatiana Kosinova, St. Petersburg Memorial 

Photos by Irina Ronkina, St. Petersburg Memorial