Members of the HRC Sergey Krivenko and Leonid Nikitinsky, involved in the Human Rights Council's mission to Karelia on February 8, visited one of the gateways of the White Sea-Baltic Canal and Sandarmokh – place of execution and mass burial of victims of the Great Terror of the 1930s.
They were accompanied by the head of the Regional State Committee for Protection of Cultural Heritage Yulia Alipova, head of the administration of governor Anatoly Moiseyev, and Petrozavodsk State University scientists, searchers, experts and representatives of "Memorial".
Most of the trip reminded a tour: guests listened about principle of operation of locks and strategic importance of the White Sea Canal, were taken to the church of St. Nicholas, built recently in the village of Povenets in memory of canal builders.
Irina Fliege, who together with the Karelian historian Yuri Dmitriev found mass graves in Sandarmokh in 1997, admitted that purpose of the trip was not entertaining:
'Since 2015, there has been a strange disregard of the International day of remembrance of victims of Great Terror of 1937-1938 in Sandarmokh on the part of the republican authorities of Karelia. But in Russia, it is the only one that is not regional, not national, but an international day of remembrance of terror. People come here from different cities and countries, sometimes up to a thousand people; it's a 20-year-old tradition. Since this year we celebrate the round date – 80 years from the beginning of the Great Terror and the 20th anniversary of the opening of the cemetery and then a memorial here, — we will not just ask, but also require that this memorable date to be included in the official events' plan of the Government of Karelia for 2017, so that we could properly hold solemn ceremonies.'
Member of the HRC Sergey Krivenko summed up the trip:
'Tomorrow at the final meeting, first of all, I will thank the leadership of the republic, because they have done much to perpetuate the memory of victims of repression. Sandarmokh was opened with support of the government, Yuri Dmitriev worked with support of the government, and Karelia can become an example for other regions. Secondly, we intend to prove the leadership of the republic that even in the current difficult political conditions, including foreign policy, memorial days should be supported, they should not be afraid of international status and that representatives of Ukraine and Azerbaijan and other countries will visit Sandarmokh on August 5. So far, we have no mutual understanding, but tomorrow I will insist that commemorative events should be conducted jointly with the Government of Karelia and under the auspices of our Council. Then it will be the level that Sandarmokh deserves.'
It is the second day of work of members of the Human Rights Council headed by Chairman Mikhail Fedotov in Karelia. They have already visited Sunsky pine wood and Sandarmokh, discussed the problems of protection of the rights of prisoners, met with the students and leadership of Petrozavodsk State University and representatives of non-profit organizations, as well as held a reception of the population. According to the results of the visit, there will be a written report on the situation of human rights in Karelia.
Gleb Yarovoy, «7x7»