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Procession Commemorates Victims Of Stalin's Great Terror

The cross from the Solovki monastery arriving in Moscow (ITAR-TASS) August 6, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A series of commemorations honoring victims of Josef Stalin's purges continued today, with a procession in Moscow carrying a large wooden cross from a northern Russian monastery that served as a Soviet prison camp in the 1930s.

The 12-meter cross from the Solovki monastery traveled to Moscow by boat from the Solovki islands after it was blessed by Patriarch Aleksy II, and was accompanied by representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church.

It will be erected on August 7 in Moscow's Butovo district, where more than 20,000 people were executed and buried between August 1937 and October 1938. Memorial services will be held the next day in all Orthodox churches in Moscow.

Commemoration Date

Russia remains divided over a date to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of victims of the "Great Terror," the campaign of mass executions and repressions orchestrated by Soviet dictator Stalin in the late 1930s.

With August 1937 viewed as the peak of the repressions, many of the commemorations are taking place this month.

The respected human-rights group Memorial held a ceremony on August 5 to mark the 70th anniversary of the purges. On August 5, 1937, an order by the NKVD -- the precursor to the KGB secret police -- came into force to kill or jail so-called "anti-Soviet and socially dangerous elements."

(with material from agency reports)

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