Ukrainians honour the Victims of the Terror in the Sandarmokh Clearing and on Solovky
The Ukrainian delegation which took part in the Days of Remembrance at Sandarmokh and Solovky in the Russian Federation returned to Kyiv on 11 August. Their journey which began on 1 August covered over 5,000 kilometres mostly by coach and then by boat. They took part in all the memorial events to mark the seventieth anniversary of the unleashing of what we now know as the Great Terror on 5 August 1937. The delegation took with them historical material from the Kyiv branch of “Memorial”.
Delegations have been travelling to the Medvezhogorsk district even since 1997 when the secret graves of victims were uncovered. Hundreds of Ukrainians have since made that journey to Sandarmokh, many of them relatives of those executed there. The coordinator of these trips, former political prisoner Vasyl Ovsiyenko took part this year also, together with former political prisoners Hryhory Kutsenko, Valery Kravchenko and Hryhory Hayovy, There were also relatives of those murdered, as well as Eric Yatskevych who was himself born on Solovky. There were also a number of representatives of civic organizations including Kyiv Memorial, the All-Ukrainian Association for Political Prisoners and Victims of Repression and others.
Of particular note is the fact that this was the first year that the expedition was led by the Head of the Ukrainian Institute for National Remembrance Oleksandr Polonsky who was assisted in organizational matters by his colleague Irina Boltasova. In accordance with the Presidents Decree of May this year, the expedition was fully financed for the first time by the government.
On 5 August delegations from Ukraine, different regions of Russia, and representatives of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland, Sweden and Estonia took part in the Remembrance Ceremony. President Yushchenkos address (see the links below) was read out. A ceremony was also held at the granite Cossack Cross which has stood in the Sandarmokh Clearing since 2004. Yury Dmitriev from St Petersburg largely thanks to whom the graves were discovered spoke at the ceremony and passed for the Institute for National Remembrance “Remembrance lists of Karelia”, as well as his own personal research material.
The Sandarmokh Clearing holds the last earthly remains of (at very least) 1111 Solovky prisoners Many were members of the intelligentsia of almost all nations of the USSR imprisoned on Solovky. Among them were 290 Ukrainians. Labelled “Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists”, those murdered included the neo-classic poet and professor of Kyiv University Mykola Zerov, the creator of the theatre “Berezil” [“March” Les Kurbas, the playwright Mykola Kulish; Anton. Ostap and Bohdan Krushelnytsky, the writers Valeryan Pidmohylny, Pavlo Filypovych, Valeryan Polishchuk, Oleksa Slisarenko, Myroslav Irchan, Hryhoriy Elik, Marko Vorony, Myhkailo Kozoriz, Mykhailo Yalovy; the historians Academician Matviy Yavorsky, Professor Serhiy Hrushevsky; the scientists Stepan Rudnytsky, Mykola Pavlushkov, Vasyl Volkov, Petro Bovsunivsky, Mykola Trokhymenko; the founder of the Hydro-meteorological Service of the USSR, Dutch by origin, Professor Oleksiy Vangenheim; the Minister of Finance of the Ukrainian SSR Mykhailo Poloz.
The Ukrainian delegation also travelled to Solovky where they honoured the Victims at the Solovky Stone and to the beginning of the Belomor Canal.
Much abridged, but from material from the Kyiv branch of Memorial