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Ukraine IDs Thousands Of Stalin Victims Buried Near Kyiv

A memorial to victims of Stalin's regime in the Bykivnya forest near Kyiv
KYIV -- Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) officials have announced that they have determined the identities of 14,191 people killed by order of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and buried in the Bykivnya forest outside of Kyiv.

Professor Vasyl Danylenko, of the SBU archives, told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service that there are 18 places in Ukraine that were used to execute thousands of people during the Stalin era.

He said Bykivnya was heavily guarded in Soviet times and, though many executions were carried out in Kyiv, the dead were buried in mass graves at Bykivnya during the night.

Before World War II, most executions were carried out directly in the forest with the victims lined up before ready-dug graves.

Danylenko said of the other 18 mass burial sites in Ukraine that have been identified, some are being used as parks, some have department stores built on them, or are serving as city cemeteries.

Ukraine will officially commemorate victims of political repression on May 17 when thousands of people will visit Bykivnya to pay their respects.

Many people have erected signs on trees with the names of relatives they believe are buried there.

Click here for a video by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service (in Ukrainian).