A giant cross now commands the field where the first shots of Stalin's Great Terror sounded 70 years ago. It was erected Wednesday with religious pomp, but little recognition from a government prone to gloss over one of Russia's darkest eras.
The cross was ferried 1,300 kilometers, or 800 miles, by boat to Moscow from a former Soviet prison camp on the White Sea through the Belomor Canal, which was built in the 1930s by slave labor. Thus began a commemoration of a rampage of state-sanctioned violence.
The procession and the ceremony marked a rare attempt to address Soviet brutality during Stalin's reign. President Vladimir Putin acknowledged only in June that the purge was one of the worst episodes of the Stalin era. At the same time, Putin said that "in other countries even worse things happened."
Millions died from wars, famine, and government cruelty in the nearly 30 years of Stalin's rule. During the purges from August 1937 to October 1938, the systematic slaughter reached its apogee. During this time the Soviet secret police, or NKVD, arrested more than a million people and executed more than... read the rest here:
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