Staunton, Nov. 9 – Since the start of Vladimir Putin’s expanded war in Ukraine in February 2022, memorials to victims of Soviet repressions have been quietly taken down in city after city in the Russian Federation by persons unknown but who appear to enjoy official sanction because the authorities have done little or nothing to identify the perpetrators.
Indeed, Takiye Dela commentator Anna Vasiliyeva says, this veil of silence extends to many experts who will talk about what is going on only under conditions of anonymity. But their words and those of the few activists who will talk are sufficient to draw the conclusion that officials are quietly behind what is going on (takiedela.ru/2023/11/v-rossii-tayno-snosyat-pamyatniki-zhertv/).
A Moscow historian says that he believes what is happening is the Kremlin’s response to the removal of Soviet monuments in Europe and reflects as well the desire of the Putin regime not to have any sites which might serve as focal points for demonstrations against the current government.
Aleksandra Polivanova of Memorial says that it is clear that hooligans couldn’t take such actions especially with regard to larger displays without the support of the powers that be and the certainty that they will no be subjected to any legal sanction or even official harassment if they take such actions.
And Oksana Matiyevskaya, one of the organizers of the Last Address memorials, says that in Moscow and other larger cities, it shouldn’t be a problem for the authorities to identify who is violating the law by destroying or desecrating monuments. After all, these places have ramified television monitoring which is often used to identify and arrest regime opponents.
That this isn’t happening, she says, is the best evidence that what is taking place is not some spontaneous and random set of acts but a new official policy.