Mikhail Rogachev: The reburial of victims of the Soviet terror in the Republic of Komi

posted 18 Dec 2017, 08:32 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Dec 2017, 08:41 ]
12 December 2017 

By Mikhail Borisovich Rogachev, chair of the board of Repentance, a non-governmental charitable foundation in the Republic of Komi (established in 2000), and editor-in-chief of “Repentance: The Komi Republic’s Martyrology of the Victims of Political Repressions”. Mikhail Rogachev has written around 200 papers on the history of the Gulag, repression and opposition in the USSR, was awarded the Likhachev Prize, and has been part of Memorial since 1989, was chair of the board of the Syktyvkar branch of Memorial (1990–2007), and is a board member of the International Memorial Society.

Source: HRO.org [original source: “7x7”]

Historian Mikhail Rogachev believes that not all the remains of political prisoners executed at the end of the 1930s and discovered in Zabolotny in 2017 have been buried in Ukhta.

He made his comment to 7x7 after the administration’s press service announced their [re]burial on 7 December 2017.

He is presumably referring to the remains of political prisoners discovered at the end of April 2017 during excavation work. Experts examined three skulls with bullet holes and determined that they had been in the ground for at least 30 years.

Investigators finished verifying the data in July 2017 and a criminal case was not opened “due to the absence of corpus delicti”.

Historian Mikhail Rogachev believes that the burial site has not been thoroughly investigated:

“It’s a good thing that they have been given a proper burial, but the case has now essentially been closed, even though the rules state that the location must be inspected to ascertain the edges of the grave and find out whether there are any more bodies. Other people could also be buried there. We need to know whether they were shot at the height of the mass shootings.

“How they are positioned is important – those shot were usually buried in common graves. If the remains are all buried haphazardly in one place without coffins, then chances are they were shot in 1937 and 1938.

“We have information that around 80 people were shot there during this time, but they were shot in groups rather than all at once. Once the burial site has been examined, it will be possible to compare numbers and work out when they were executed.”

The historian claims that according to the investigation protocol of similar mass graves, the city administration should be involved with assistance from law enforcement agencies, the public prosecutor’s office and forensic experts.

The Ukhtpechlag (the Ukhto-Pechorsky Corrective Labour Camp), made up of five camp departments, was set up in the early 1930s. At that time there was also an NKVD prison in Zabolotny and people were shot nearby. After the camp was dismantled in the 1950s, all the prison buildings were demolished.

In 1991, a monument funded by the Ukhta administration, businesses in the region and the Ukhta-Pechora branch of Memorial was erected nearby to all the innocent people killed in Zabolotny.

Translated by Nicky Brown