#25 - JRL 2009-186 - JRL Home

Russian rights centre hits at prosecution of historian studying 1940s deportees

Moscow, 6 October: Human rights campaigners have sided with a historian and a policeman in Arkhangelsk who are being prosecuted for collecting information about German and Polish political prisoners.

A criminal case has been initiated against Prof Mikhail Suprun, head of a department at Pomorskiy State University, and Col Aleksandr Dudarev, head of the information centre of the Directorate of Internal Affairs (UVD) for Arkhangelsk Region, according to a statement issued by Memorial, a historical education and human rights centre.

According to the rights centre, Prof Suprun is being prosecuted for collecting information for a database about the Poles and Germans who were deported to a special settlement in Arkhangelsk Region in the 1940s and Col Dudarev is being prosecuted for providing Suprun with this opportunity.

"In other words, the first is being prosecuted for doing his job and the second for performing his duties. The grounds for the prosecution are absurd," says the statement, which Interfax received on Tuesday (6 October).

According to Memorial, the information, which employees of Pomorskiy University were collecting, using documents from the archive of the information centre of the Arkhangelsk UVD, is no different from the information available in the majority of the Books of Memory for victims of political repressions that have been published in Russia.

The Memorial statement says that the Books of Memory for those who died during the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) and the database of the Defence Ministry, which is in the public domain, contain many more names - about 10m - and the information about the people in them includes not just the date of birth and death but many other details, such as their residence address before they were called up, family details, etc. (Passage omitted)

"It is obvious that the accusations are groundless," Memorial says. (Passage omitted)

"The Arkhangelsk case is causing particular alarm in the context of recent tendencies towards embellishing Stalin and keeping silent about the crimes of the Communist regime. On the other hand, it might be 'just' an acute form of relapse into the mania of secrecy inherited from the Soviet Union. But this disease is extremely dangerous: through the closure of access to archives, Russia is being deprived of its history and its memory, which are the foundations of the national identity," the statement says.

Memorial is a leading independent organization on post-Soviet space that deals with the rehabilitation of the victims of political repressions in the USSR.

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