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Annual Commemoration Of Victims Of Stalin's Great Terror Held Online In Russia

The annual ceremony is normally held on Moscow's Lubyanka Square at the the site of the former headquarters of the Soviet KGB. (file photo)

MOSCOW – An annual commemoration for thousands of people executed during Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's Great Terror is being held in Russia online for a second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has held a ceremony every year since 2006 at the Solovetsky Kamen (Solovki Stone) memorial on Moscow's Lubyanka Square, which is the site of the former headquarters of the Soviet KGB and the current headquarters of its successor, the Federal Security Service (FSB).

For 12 hours, relatives of those executed, rights activists, and other participants read aloud the names, ages, occupations, and execution dates of some of the estimated 1 million or more Soviet citizens executed by Stalin's regime in 1937-38.

But due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year's commemoration in Moscow and elsewhere is being held online, as in 2020.

Memorial asked participants to shoot video statements at symbolic sites that were added to its YouTube broadcast running from 10.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.

The ceremony is held ahead of the October 30 Day of Commemoration of the Victims of Political Repressions in Russia, the date chosen to honor gulag inmates in the Russian regions of Mordovia and Perm who started a mass hunger strike on that day in 1974, protesting political persecutions in the Soviet Union.

The exact number of Soviet citizens repressed by Stalin’s regime remains unknown. According to Memorial, at least 12 million men and women were persecuted during the Great Terror. The Gulag Museum puts the number at 20 million, and estimates that more than 1 million people were executed.