Thursday, August 25, 2022

Yekaterinburg’s Yeltsin Center May Soon have Competition: a Beria Center in Closed City of Novouralsk

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 19 – August is often the silly season with stories that wouldn’t make the cut in other months of the year garnering headlines because of a fall off in other news. One hopes the following story is such a case, but unfortunately, it appears to reflect a real trend in Putin’s Russia today.

            Vadim Averyanov, the former advisor to the rector of the Urals Mining University and a self-proclaimed Stalinist, says that a center devoted to the life and career of Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria, Stalin’s notorious secret police chief, should be opened in Novouralsk as a counterweight to the Yeltsin Center in Yekaterinburg (

            Many Russian authoritarians have been angered by the more liberal policies the Yeltsin Center has pursued, including an unwillingness to openly support Putin’s war in Ukraine. Not surprisingly, some have proposed closing the center. But Averyanov is the first to go beyond that and suggest that the authorities should open a Beria Center instead.

            He insists that such a facility would be more attractive to more people than the Yeltsin Center has been, that it can spur “red tourism” from China [and presumably North Korea!], and that it will help educate the rising generation about the contributions Stalin’s secret police chief made to the development of Russia.

            Averyanov suggests that there should be within the new Beria Center, a place he says could become “a regional brand,” a museum devoted to Beria’s role in creating Soviet nuclear warheads and another focusing on his role as a secret policeman and head of Soviet espionage activities abroad.

            What the Sverdlovsk resident doesn’t make clear is who would actually get to visit the proposed Beria Center. If it goes up in Novouralsk, that is still a closed city; and outsiders can get in only with special permission. Perhaps that is the best and most symbolic reason for putting it there.


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