Pardon Our Appearance: We’re Building an Authoritarian State

solovetsky022208.jpgRussia was quick to reprimand the insensitive Estonians for moving a monument to a Soviet soldier from the center of Tallinn to a military cemetery, but it looks like the power learned a thing or two from the incident. It is noteworthy that the Russian government has never put up a monument to the millions of victims of Stalin’s NKVD terror. The Solovetsy Stone was brought to Moscow at the initiative of the “Memorial” NGO from the site of one the the first outposts of the GULag, the Solovki Islands, and placed on Lubyanka Square in front of KGB headquarters, where a mighty statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky once stood. This simple stone has become a sacred place where people come to honor the memory of loved ones who disappeared in the middle of the night and perished during the purges and whose final resting places will never be known. Now, the authorities want to move the Stone, ostensibly to construct an underground power station for the metro. The Stone will be put in a place with restricted public access. Temporarily. Or so the authorities say. The very idea that the paranoid FSB would allow civilian underground construction so close to its headquarters already seems suspicious. And what is to keep this temporary construction project from becoming permanent, as so often happens in Russia? What if the authorities decide that they actually prefer the new inconvenient location of the Stone and don’t return this eyesore and reminder of the excesses of the organs back to its rightful place in front of their headquarters? Such a scenario is very possible in today’s Russia, and would represent a deep affront to the memory of the millions of innocent victims of the organs in years gone by. But the organs don’t want people to remember, because they’re intent on restoring the GULag system to its full glory by filling it once again with imaginary spies and “enemies of the people”. After the jump, a translation from the Russian press on this story.

Translated from rights advocates protest against move of Solovetsky Stone in connection with constructionRussian human rights advocates are protesting against a plan to move the Solovetsky Stone in connection with the intentions of the capital authorities to carry out construction works under the small park on Lubyanka Square.“We are decisively against and consider that to touch the Solovetsky Stone – this is sacrilege”, declared chairman of the management board of the international historico-enlightenment and human rights society “Memorial” Aresny Roginsky to “Interfax” on Saturday.solovetsky2022208.jpgAccording to his words, the Solovetsky Stone on Lubyanka Square is visited by thousands of people who don’t know the burial places of their close ones – victims of political repressions in the USSR. “The Solovetsky Stone – this is the same kind of place as the Eternal Flame”, said the head of “Memorial”.Earlier, there had appeared reports about how the capital authorities are planning to carry out construction works under the small park on Lubyanka Square, where a substation for the metro will be working. “Now this substation is found on Nikolskaya ulitsa, And can it really be that they can’t find another place and not touch the Solovetsky Stone”, said Roginsky.“In addition to this, I do not believe that they will carry out all the construction works quickly and that all will be returned to the former place. For now, judging by the plans for the construction works, part of the small park on Lubyanka Square will be closed, while they’re planning to move the Stone to another place and access to it will be restricted”, declared Roginsky.“If indeed the construction works under the small park on Lubyanka Square – this is a real necessity, on which the safety of people depends, we demand guarantees that the capital authorities would promise that the Stone will be returned to the former place and would clearly determine when the construction works will be completed and who will answer for this”, said the head of “Memorial”.Roginsky reminded that the Solovetsky Stone on Lubyanka Square was put in place in the year 1990 by the “Memorial” society with the help of the then Moscow City Council. The Stone was brought from the Solovky Islands and mourning events dedicated to the memory of the victims of political repressions in the USSR take place regularly at it.