Title: Russians Commemorate Victims of Soviet State Terror Amid Government Crackdown
Word Count: 373 words
Moscow, Russia – Russians gathered to honor the victims of the Soviet state terror during the annual Returning of the Names event organized by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights group Memorial. This event, traditionally held on October 29, the eve of Remembrance Day for Victims of Political Repression, aims to read out the names of individuals who lost their lives during Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror.
However, this year’s event faced numerous obstacles as Moscow authorities refused to grant a permit, citing the ongoing “epidemiological situation.” Supporters of Memorial believe the refusal is politically motivated, highlighting the government’s increasing crackdown on dissent. In November 2021, the Moscow authorities ordered the closure of Memorial, a move condemned by human rights activists worldwide.
Despite the closure, Memorial continues its human rights activities in Russia and operates in other countries. Instead of the demonstration, flowers were laid at the Solovetsky Stone, a symbolic place for remembering victims. Police closely monitored the event to ensure no further gatherings took place.
To reach a wider audience, Memorial organized a live broadcast of the reading of victims’ names from Moscow and other cities, both within Russia and abroad. This allowed supporters globally to stand in solidarity and commemorate those who suffered under state terror.
The crackdown on dissent has intensified in recent times, with Russian prosecutors seeking a three-year prison sentence for Memorial co-chair, Oleg Orlov. Orlov was previously fined $1,500 and convicted for publicly discrediting the Russian military after denouncing the invasion of Ukraine. State prosecutors have now appealed the sentence, arguing that it was “excessively lenient.”
This increased repression has not only targeted human rights activists but also independent journalists and opposition figures. The Russian government’s actions have drawn strong criticism from international human rights organizations.
As Russians gathered to remember the victims of state terror, it serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing battle for human rights and freedom of expression in Russia. Despite facing numerous challenges, Memorial and its supporters continue to fight for justice and uphold the memory of those who suffered under Soviet repression.
“Social media scholar. Reader. Zombieaholic. Hardcore music maven. Web fanatic. Coffee practitioner. Explorer.”