Commemorative event at the Solovetsky Stone - reports

posted 4 Nov 2013, 08:25 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Nov 2013, 08:29 ]
29 October 2013 

Source: (info)
Vera Vasilyeva, On 29 October 2013, the day before the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Political Repressions, Memorial is holding a "Return of the Names" event at the Solovetsky Stone on Moscow’s Lubyanka Square. One by one, participants read out the names of those shot in the capital during the Great Terror. 

They approach the microphone carrying candles and sheets of paper from which they read names, ages, professions and dates of shooting. Sometimes they add comments of their own, such as, “my father”, “my grandfather”, “my grandmother”. Then they place a lit candle on the plinth of the Solovetsky Stone. Some lay flowers.

The commemorative event started at 10 in the morning and will last until 10 in the evening, by which time there will be thousands of candles on the plinth, and the stone itself will be buried under piles of flowers. The queue of people waiting to use the microphone is never-ending.

To view photographs of the event, click HERE

Over 30 000 people were shot in Moscow alone in 1937-1938. 

It is clear to anyone standing nearby and listening to the information being read out that no-one was spared by the juggernaut of Soviet repression – neither engine drivers nor barkeepers nor high-ranking NKVD officials, neither young nor very old, neither priests nor Red commanders nor party functionaries.

The “Return of the Names” event is now in its seventh year.

According to Memorial representatives, "If we want to live in a society which values the worth and interests of people more than those of the state, and where the state values nothing other than people, our path must lead us past the Solovetsky Stone.”

The event at Lubyanka Square was also attended by well-known faces; the correspondent met Vladimir Lukin, Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, Arseny Roginsky, chair of the International Memorial Society, Oleg Orlov, chair of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, and the politician Leonid Gozman.

However the commemorative event is attended not only by human rights activists, the families of the victims of the Great Terror and amateur historians, but also by people who just want to be involved, including many young people.

Memorial had prepared a small map entitled “Topography of Terror. The Lubyanka Building and its Environs” especially for the “Return of the Names” event and as part of the “Moscow. A Place of Memory” project. Human rights activists handed them out to everyone visiting the Solovetsky Stone.

The historian and tour leader Pavel Gnilorybov was also offering guided walks through the areas surrounding the Lubyanka Building.

In a sad sign of the times, Moscow-based civic activists were collecting signatures on Lubyanka Square for an amnesty for modern-day political prisoners.

Live video from Lubyanka Square in Moscow was streamed on throughout the day.

Translated by Joanne Reynolds