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Rostov Region Commemorates Soviet-Era Shooting Victims

NOVOCHERKASSK, Russia -- Residents of Novocherkassk in Rostov Oblast are today marking the 48th anniversary of a deadly crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

On June 2, 1962, hundreds of workers at the local machine building plant and members of their families marched through the town center to the local Communist Party headquarters to protest a decision to cut salaries and increase the daily production norm. Soviet Army units were sent to disperse the demonstration.

According to official data, at least 26 demonstrators were shot dead and hundreds were wounded. Seven workers were subsequently found guilty of organizing an anti-Soviet gathering and sentenced to death. Dozens more were jailed.

The incident was not reported in the Soviet media at the time. It became common knowledge only after then CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev launched his "glasnost" campaign in the mid-1980s.

Many survivors of the protest took part in today's commemoration in front of the Ataman Palace. The speakers said that by commemorating the victims, they are urging the town's population not to forget the incident and thus ensure that nothing similar happens again in Russia.

Those assembled then visited the memorial in the town's central cemetery where the bodies of 20 of the victims are buried. They were found in the 1990s in the cemetery of the small town of Novoshakhtinsk in Rostov Oblast, and subsequently reburied in Novocherkassk. The bodies of the remaining victims have never been found.