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Russia marks Remembrance Day of the Victims of Political Repressions

A police officer guards an area as U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy lays flowers at the monument, a large boulder from the Solovetsky islands.
A police officer guards an area as U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy lays flowers at the monument, a large boulder from the Solovetsky islands. Copyright AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov
Copyright AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov
By Euronews with AFP
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Moscow residents, including well-known dissidents, take part in the 'Returning of the Names' ceremony - an annual commemoration of Soviet-era repressions.

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Russians commemorated the victims of Stalinist terror on Sunday, more than 20 months into Moscow's Ukraine offensive that has been accompanied at home by a major crackdown on dissent.

The Kremlin has doubled down on its version of history as troops fight in Ukraine, which often glosses over Stalinist crimes, with public commemoration of Soviet-era repression seen as unpatriotic.

Many Russians took part in the "Returning of the Names" event organised by Nobel Prize winning Memorial – a rights and historical memory group shut down weeks before Moscow launched its 2022 military campaign.

Every year, the event sees people taking turns to read out the names of people executed during Stalin's Terror between 1936 and 1938.

In Moscow, it is traditionally held at the Solovetsky Stone memorial to victims, opposite the Lubyanka headquarters of the KGB, now occupied by its modern successor FSB.

But Memorial said ahead of the event that authorities banned it from holding the commemoration on the central Lubyanka Square.

Reporters said the site was encircled by metal barriers, with police gathered there.

Employees of diplomatic missions walk to lay flowers at the monument where the first camp of the Gulag political prison system was established,in Lubyanska.
Employees of diplomatic missions walk to lay flowers at the monument where the first camp of the Gulag political prison system was established,in Lubyanska.Dmitry Serebryakov/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Oleg Orlov, Memorial's co-chair recently fined for denouncing the Ukraine campaign, still came to the stone to pay his respects.

Several Western ambassadors, including the US envoy, laid flowers.

Banned from gathering on Lubyanka, Memorial had instead organised the reading of the names at symbolic places associated with dissidents around the Russian capital.

This year's event comes as Memorial says there is a growing number of political prisoners in Russia.

Thousands of Russians have been detained, jailed or fined for opposing the conflict in Ukraine.

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