Monument for Stalin victims inaugruated
MOSCOW - Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated a monument to the victims of Stalinist purges on Oct. 30, but Soviet-era dissidents accused him of cynicism at a time when they say authorities are riding roughshod over civil freedoms.
“The Wall of Grief” occupies a space on the edge of Moscow’s busy 10-lane ring road and depicts a mass of faceless victims, many of whom were sent to prison camps or executed on Josef Stalin’s watch after falsely being accused of being “enemies of the people.”
Nearly 700,000 people were executed during the Great Terror of 1937-38, according to conservative official estimates.
“An unequivocal and clear assessment of the repression will help to prevent it being repeated,” Putin said at the opening
“This terrible past must not be erased from our national memory and cannot be justified by anything.”
His words and the ceremony amounted to one of his strongest condemnations of the Soviet Union’s dark side in the 18 years he has dominated Russia’s political landscape.
Putin has in the past called Stalin “a complex figure” and said attempts to demonize him were a ploy to attack Russia.
But at the ceremony, he said there were lessons for Russia.
“It doesn’t mean demanding accounts be settled,” said Putin, who stressed a need for stability. “We must never again push society to the dangerous precipice of division.”