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Sergei Markelov
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Karelian Investigation Committee refused to initiate criminal proceedings on removing a monument to the defender of Petrozavodsk

Sergei Markelov
Monument to Yasha Stepanov
Photo by Alya Grach

Karelian Department of the Russian Investigative Committee’s office of criminal investigations did not initiate a criminal case on removing a memorial sign to the Red Army’s soldier Yakov Stepanov who died during the Great Patriotic War. The Respublika Outlet reported this on September 23.

Investigators believe that the Red Army’s soldier Yakov Stepanov did not die during the defense of Petrozavodsk in the autumn of 1941, but in the summer of 1944 in Pryazhinsky District. This is allegedly shown in the memoirs of the soldier's family who claim that they received the last letter from him in 1944. The Investigation Committee came to the conclusion that the monument in Kamenny Bor ('the Stone Forest') was neither a war grave, nor a cultural heritage site.


It is popularly believed that 18-year-old Stepanov died on October 1, 1941, while defending Petrozavodsk from the coming Finnish army. On October 2, 1941, Petrozavodsk fell.

In the mid-1990s, a monument to Yakov Stepanov was erected in Kamenny Bor in Petrozavodsk at the site of the alleged death of the Red Army’s soldier where clear-felling began at two sites at once in February 2020. The first section was developed for the construction of a sports complex by a sole proprietor, and the second section was prepared for the construction of a 280-seat kindergarten under the Karelian government's state order. Builders destroyed the monument to Yakov Stepanov during the clear-felling. City officials promised to restore it in the autumn of 2020. The park's defenders contacted reported the monument’s demolition to the police, then ordered and installed a new monument themselves.

Protests against clear-felling in the Kamenny Bor Park were held in the spring and summer of 2020. The developer of the site for the construction of a sports complex refused the land. On March 31, 2020, the park’s defenders filed a lawsuit against the actions of the city administration in order to stop clear-felling in the second section. On June 18, the Supreme Court of Karelia ruled for the park's defenders and recognized the allocation of a land plot from a recreation area for the construction of a park illegal. On August 13, Karelian activists won a lawsuit against the city administration to recognize felling of trees in the park illegal.

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Sergei Markelov, «7х7»

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