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29.10.2006

In Kyiv the remains of 817 victims of the repressions of the 1930s have been laid to rest

   

In the national reserve area, “the Bykivnya Graves”, a memorial ceremony reburying the remains of eight hundred and seventeen victims of the political repressions of the 1930s was held on Saturday, 28 October 2006.  The human remains were dug up in order to give them a Christian burial. More than two hundred people attended the memorial ceremony.

People mark the graves of their murdered relatives with yellow and blue ribbons or embroidered rushnyky [traditional towels]. Tetyana Svystunova only discovered three years ago that her grandfather’s remains may lie in the Bykivnya Forest and it was only today that she found the surname of her grandfather in the list of those buried in the Bykivnya Graves. According to the note in the book, her grandfather was shot as a supporter of Simon Petlura. She recalls that her mother talked about how Simon Petlura’s troops had indeed passed through their village.

Tetyana Svystunova recounts: “And they took the young lads with them as if there was mobilization. And they never even got to Borispol, where the troops were forming. On the way Soviet forces attacked, all those young lads ran back to their villages, and well, that’s how my grandfather became a Petlura supporter”.

Approximately eight thousand Ukrainians, Poles, Russians and representatives of other nationalities have already been reburied in the Bykivnya graves. However the exact number of people whose remains lie on the territory of the Bykivnya reserve remains unknown. Historians name a figure of between 20 and over 100 thousand people murdered by the Soviet regime.

Vitaly Kazachenko: “I would just like to talk about what we do know definitely: we know, and this has been confirmed by archival material declassified by the SBU [the Security Service].  We have information that there are 17 thousand and 327 remains. They are confirmed by what has been found here; I cannot say anything about a larger number since it has not been confirmed”.

For over half a century the truth about the Bykivnya Graves was concealed. It was only in 1991 that at the place of the burial a memorial stone was placed to the victims of the fascists. And only a few years after that was it written there that this is the last resting place of victims of political repression.

Roman Sukhan, Inna Shaporenko, Channel 5

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