11 Dec 2019 09:51

Putin instructs State Duma to draft proposals on national register of mass graves of victims of political repressions

MOSCOW. Dec 10 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed the idea of improving the laws regarding the mass graves of political repressions' victims and commemorating them with a museum at the Butovo firing range just outside Moscow.

"As for the order of work on and with the mass graves, let us ask State Duma deputies to do the job and make proposals so that we strengthen our legal framework accordingly and do what you've just said," Putin said at a meeting with members of the presidential council for human rights on Tuesday.

Kirill Kaleda, head of the church of new martyrs and confessors at Butovo, had asked Putin "to give instructions on the need, on the one hand, for improvements on the mass graves issue, in particular, the need to create a national register of such places" and "instructions to conduct an archive search to find documents relating to mass graves to make the search for such sites easier."

The mass graves of the victims of political repressions have no status and who is responsible for them is unclear, Kaleda said. "This results in conflicts of the kind that happened in Perm this fall, when volunteers [and staff from the local branch of the Memorial group] attempted to equip a site of mass graves on the grounds of a forest fund but the forestry authorities sued them for breaking some plantations," he said.

Furthermore, the exact locations are neither known nor feature in any known records. Some are within immediate proximity from fast-sprawling cities, others in remote areas, their traces being destroyed, the priest said.

Kaleda also asked Putin to instruct the government of either Moscow city or Moscow region "to open a museum of memory for those who suffered hardships for their faith" during the years of repressions, at the site of a former FSB building at Butovo, which is now a property of the Russian Orthodox Church. The over 5,000-square-meter building was handed over in 2015 at the request of Patriarch Kirill but is in dire state and needs refurbishment and communications wiring. "If such a museum is created, it could become a coordinator in the research, search and perpetuation of the memory about mass grave sites," Kaleda said.

"With regard to the museum, its creation and repairs, I will ask the Moscow mayor to support this. I don't think that today it is difficult to do," Putin said.