Monday, January 16, 2012

In Russia, Echoes of Revolution

THE memorial stone is still there, across from the old K.G.B. headquarters, the handsome building where in the 1930s thousands of people were shot in the basement as trucks roared their engines to cover the noise.

“To the Memory,” the inscription reads, “of the Millions of Victims of the Totalitarian Regime.”
I was a reporter in the crowd on a crisp October afternoon in 1990 at the dedication of the gray granite boulder, brought from the birthplace of the Soviet prison camp system on the White Sea. A 90-year-old survivor of the gulag prison system spoke, and hundreds of people filed by, solemnly placing roses or carnations.

There was a feeling of victory. How long could the secret police continue to operate inside the Lubyanka, as the feared headquarters is known, when so stark a reminder of its crimes sat in this little park of spruces across the square?

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