Putin Mourns Victims at Stalin-Era Killing Field

Breaking News

President Vladimir V. Putin paid his first visit today to a memorial and church built on the site of a killing field where thousands were executed, as Russia marked the 70th anniversary of Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror and the decades of Soviet political repression that left millions dead.

The site, on the grounds of a pre-revolutionary estate on the edge of Moscow, became a secret territory of the N.K.V.D., a predecessor of the K.G.B., the intelligence agency in which Mr. Putin rose to be a lieutenant colonel. More than 20,000 people killed during the height of Stalin’s purges in 1937-1938 were buried on the grounds. In that period, hundreds were sometimes shot there in a single day. It is called Butovksy poligon. Poligon translates as shooting range.

Mr. Putin’s comments, broadcast on national television news and posted on the Kremlin’s Web site, www.kremlin.ru, underscored the bloody reprisals that Russians suffered from the time of the Bolshevik Revolution through Stalin’s death in 1953.

“Those who were executed, sent to camps, shot and tortured number in the thousands and millions of people,” he said. “Along with this, as a rule these were people with their own opinions. These were people who were not afraid to speak their minds. They were the most capable people. They are the pride of the nation. And of course over many years, and today as well, we still remember this tragedy. We need to do a great deal to ensure that this is never forgotten.”

comments powered by Disqus