Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Day of Remembrance

On October 30, 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid his respects to millions of people killed under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and called for the country to unite to prevent a repeat of its tragic past.

Putin marked Russia's annual day of remembrance for the victims of Stalin's purges with a visit to Butovo, a military training ground near Moscow where tens of thousands of people were executed by firing squads.

The victims included priests and royalists but also huge numbers of people who were simply caught up in an indiscriminate spiral of killing.

This year Russia marks the 70th anniversary of the bloodiest period of the purges.
Putin attended a memorial service with Patriarch Alexiy II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, after passing a field of mass graves.

It is estimated that between 20 million and 40 million died during Stalin's rule, tearing families apart and creating a climate of fear that haunted the Soviet Union.

Dozens of mainly older Russians laid flowers at a stone memorial outside the headquarters of the former KGB (now known as the Federal Security Service) to remember Stalin's victims.
Stalin, who succeeded Vladimir Lenin, started a series of purges in the 1930s that became known as the Great Terror.

The NKVD security service, the predecessor to the KGB, killed hundreds of thousands of people on trumped up charges.
Butovo was just one of hundreds of killing grounds. More than 20,000 people are known to have been executed there between August 1937 and October 1938 alone, though local priests say the figure could be as high as 60,000.

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