Moscow: Save the People’s Memorial to the Soviet defenders

On October 4, the day that, 24 years ago, on the orders of [then Russian President Boris] Yeltsin, tanks fired at the Supreme Soviet of Russia, actions to commemorate the defenders of the Constitution and innocent victims of the massacre will take place in Moscow. According to tradition people will gather in ​​1905 Square at 15.00. After a rally, a mourning procession will be held with portraits of the dead, to the firing wall of the Krasnaya Presnya stadium on Druzhinnikovskaya Street.

Part of the People’s Memorial in Moscow.
It is here where, almost a quarter of a century ago, armored vehicles crushed barricades, executions without trial were being carried out, blood was spilling, and a People’s Memorial was laid. It emerged in the first months after Yeltsin’s coup. Initially, people went into the stadium and pasted leaflets and clippings from the few newspapers that risked telling the truth about the events of October 3-4, making lists of the dead, looking for the missing. And on the fence of the stadium, curses against the torturers and murderers were painted. 

Later, commemorative signs were erected — symbolic barricades, a memorial cross, a chapel, stands with information about the heroes of the uprising, and their photographs. The authorities have repeatedly attempted to eliminate the memorial territory. Thus, the firing wall with graffiti was demolished, erasing the traces of bullets and fragments. However, over the years, the People’s Memorial, which has no formal status, has survived, maintained and supported by activists. First of all, by the Fund to Remember the Lost Citizens of September-October 1993.

“How many more years will our commemorative signs, which have been standing here for almost a quarter of a century without any legal authorization, remain? Now the matter is complicated by the ongoing reconstruction of the Krasnaya Presnya stadium, during which they may disappear altogether. The area where the signs are now located belongs to the stadium, and in the future it will be behind the fence of the sports facility …

“Our ranks are thinning, not every year, but every day. Fewer and fewer are capable and active, and as the list of deceased veterans of those tragic events grows, it becomes more difficult to maintain our signs in good form. A time will come when there will be no one to look after them. And yet, maybe, we can still do something?” — activists of the memorial fund sounded the alarm last spring.

After repeated appeals by the fund leaders and deputies of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) faction in the State Duma and Moscow City Duma, Moscow Deputy Mayor Pechatnikov reported that there were no plans to demolish the memorial signs. However, it is clear that in such a “suspended situation” the People’s Memorial is still in danger. The Moscow City Duma explained that without the “legal status” of a monument, it is impossible, for example, to move it to a new location (if it is necessary to do so because of the expansion of the stadium). And this requires permission from the Moscow authorities and, as usual, the material means — a huge amount (20 million rubles) is required.

“Preservation requires us to legitimize the status of the memorial territory, so we call for continued collection of the required funds, monitoring of the memorial area, and strong participation in the preservation of our historical memory,” the fund states to all for whom the slogan “We will not forget, we will not forgive” is not just words.

Exactly one year ago State Duma Deputy Sergei Shargunov came out with an initiative to establish a monument in Moscow on the 25th anniversary of the October uprising of 1993. Now the project of the monument is in the process of discussion and implementation.

However, it is extremely important to preserve the People’s Memorial, which arose literally on blood of the fallen. This is our moral duty to the dead defenders of the House of Soviets, to justice, to the history of the country — and to its future. The ashes of the dead heroes of the uprising and innocent murdered people continue to pound at our hearts. It is necessary to remember — and not only on mourning anniversaries – and not to forget the banner of struggle raised in 1993.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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