Former killing grounds become shrine to Stalin's victims

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BUTOVO, Russia — Barbed wire still lines the perimeter of the secret police compound here on the southern edge of Moscow where more, perhaps far more, than 20,000 people were shot and buried from August 1937 through October 1938, at the height of Stalin’s purges. Now, gradually, Butovsky poligon — literally, the Butovo shooting range — is becoming a shrine to all of the victims of Stalin’s murderous campaigns. Grass-covered mounds holding the victims’ bones crisscross the pastoral field, which is now dotted with flowers and birch trees.

Searing portraits from victims’ case files found in the archives of the secret police are displayed, along with a grim month-by-month chart of executions, in front of a small wooden church in the field.

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