Warnings over state of Memorial to Victims of Repression near Dnipropetrovsk


The Memorial to the Victims of Holodomor and Political Repression near Dnipropetrovsk, the tallest in the country, is being neglected, members of the community warn. The territory on which the Memorial stands is a place where the remains lie of thousands of people executed during Stalin’s time.  It is covered with litter and weeds, while the sculptural complex itself is gradually falling into decay. Civic activists are appalled that this place of remembrance has been forgotten by the municipal services. The authorities assert that they do look after it, when they have the opportunity.

The area near Dnipropetrovsk is known as the “field of sorrow”. According to some reports, special NKVD building was located here where in the 1930s and at the beginning of the 1950s several thousand political prisoners were executed and buried.

The figure of a grieving mother holding the body of her child is almost 7 metres tall and was unveiled at a ceremony attended by President Yushchenko. The regional authorities then were proud to stress that it was the tallest in the country.

According to members of the community, the attitude to the Memorial has now changed.  The area is covered with weeds, litter and the decorative trees and bushes planted are now dying because they’re not being watered.

The Dnipropetrovsk District Administration does not deny that they are responsible for the Memorial.  They refused to give Radio Svoboda an interview, but in a letter stated that “work on weeding the adjacent territory is regularly carried out and litter clear by the District Administration, businesses and civic organizations of the district”.

It says, however, that public funding for properly caring for the Memorial has not been allocated.

According to the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Centre for Protection of Historical and Cultural Heritage, neither the monument nor the area are listed in the State Register of such monuments.

Ludmila Markova from the Dnipropetrovsk Historical Museum says that the events on the Field of Sorrow remain one of the dark uncovered secrets of Dnipropetrovsk, with the number of those executed and buried there still unknown.  She says that during the 1990s the Memorial Society tried to carry out excavations several times.  Some material say that the remains are of criminals, however witnesses say that those executed were political prisoners.  The exact numbers are not known.

Opposition groups say that they will turn to the Region’s Governor, and promise that if the central and municipal authorities refused to care for the Memorial, the community will raise money and take it on themselves.

Abridged from a report here:

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