Russian authorities accused of covering Stalins dastardly deeds

December 8th, 2008 - 2:27 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 8 (ANI): A British historian has accused the Russian authorities of attempting to hide from the world the dastardly deeds that were done in Soviet Russia under Stalin.

According to a report in the Guardian, eminent British historian Orlando Figes has accused the Russian authorities of trying to rehabilitate the Stalinist regime after armed police seized an entire archive last week detailing repression in the Soviet Union.

Figes, professor of history at Birkbeck, a London University college, condemned the raid on Memorial, a Russian human rights organisation.

He said that the police had also taken material used in his latest book, The Whisperers, which details family life in Stalins Russia.

Recently, armed and masked men from the investigative committee of the Russian general prosecutors office burst into Memorials St Petersburg office.

After a search of several hours, they confiscated its entire archive - memoirs, photographs, interviews, and other unique documents detailing the history of the gulag and the names of many of its victims.

Figes claimed the raid was clearly intended to intimidate Memorial.

The confiscated archive included unique documents detailing the Soviet terror from 1917 to the 1960s, he said, adding that the office was an important centre for historical research and a voice for tens of thousands of victims of repression in Leningrad.

According to Figes, the raid was a serious challenge to freedom of expression in Russia, and is a part of a campaign to rewrite Soviet history and rehabilitate the Stalinist regime.

Memorial has pioneered research into Soviet-era repression and collaborated with Figes on his latest book, which was published last year, by interviewing dozens of elderly survivors of Stalinism and recording their personal accounts of life under tyranny.

The Whisperers: Private Lives in Stalins Russia includes gripping testimonies of ordinary Russians who were children in the 1930s.

It details their cramped living conditions, the fear of informers and the abrupt disappearance of parents, many of whom never returned from Stalins camps.

Figes, who is also the author of an acclaimed book on the Russian revolution, A Peoples Tragedy, said that police had carted off all the material used in The Whisperers.

Luckily I have copies, and the originals of the sound recordings (interviews), he said.

Human rights groups said they were dismayed by the attack on Memorial.

This outrageous police raid shows the poisonous climate for non-governmental organisations in Russia, said Allison Gill, director of Human Rights Watch in Moscow. This is an overt attempt by the Russian government to silence critical voices, she added. (ANI)

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