Opinion, Russia

Edited by: A. N.

Roman Romanov, the director of the GULAG History Museum in Moscow, says that one of his researchers, Sergey Prudovsky has discovered that in September 2014, a classified order went out to destroy card files on GULAG victims, making the use of more general archives far more difficult if not impossible.

He made that declaration in a letter to Mikhail Fedotov, a Putin advisor, that Kommersant reported. Prudovsky for his part said that the total number of repressed persons under Stalin is unknown, but in 1937-1938, there were more than 1.7 million political arrests.

Thus, the amount of paper is enormous; and even if it is preserved, the destruction of the card files which serve as a kind of index and allow both officials and researchers to track down materials in various places becomes almost impossible. (As someone who has seen such files in Estonia left over from the occupation, the current author can confirm this.)

Fedotov responded to a query from Kommersant by saying that he is “studying the problem,” adding that “we will always defend the preservation of archival materials” because “when there is a document, it is practically impossible to falsify things. But when there is no document, it is possible to dream up just about anything.”

Commenting on this report, Igor Eidman, a Russian observer for Deutsche Welle, says that the destruction of Stalin-era documents in 2014 shows how much the Putin regime has become like a criminal organization down to the pettiest of details.

“Bandits have a specialty, those who clean up after a crime, who destroy evidence left by those who have committed the crime in the first place. Putin has acted in this clean up role for Stalin. Stalin killed these people. Putin is killing the memory of them.”

It seems certain, Eidman continues, that “this neo-Stalin or more precisely Stalin wannabe hopes that the memory about his own victims will also be destroyed by his successors. A dictator kills, another dictator cleans up the memory about his victims. Each successor liquidates the evidence against his predecessor.”

“Apparently, Putin would like that Russian history will eternally go along this bloody circle.

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Edited by: A. N.

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