Ukraine reburies Soviet victims

Bodies of nearly 2,000 people gunned down by the feared NKVD are reinterred.

    Over 1,900 victims of Soviet era purges were reinterred in the ceremony [AFP]

    The victims were believed to include 474 ethnic Poles, as well as 29 Red Army soldiers.
     
    The mass executions were carried out between 1937 and 1941 by the NKVD, Stalin's secret police force and the precursor to the KGB, in the small village of Bykivnya on the outskirts of Kiev.
     
    "I was eight-years old. It was just three of us, father, mother and me. And they took him," Maria Marzhetska said of her father, who was seized by the NKVD in 1937.
     
    "Every morning, every evening we were at the police station," she said. She found out what had happened 60 years later.
     
    In a sombre ceremony attended by 100 people, red coffins, some draped with flags, were lowered one by one into graves and blessed by a priest.
     
    'Enemies of the people'
     
    In total, up to 30,000 people, most branded "enemies of the people" by Stalin, are believed to have been killed and hidden in mass graves there.
     
    However, historians and rights activists have been able to locate and rebury only 10,000 victims.
     
    The Soviet authorities are believed to have destroyed the remains of the rest, Kozakevych said.
     
    On Saturday, high-ranking Polish officials paid tribute to Poles who fell victim to Stalin's purges.
     
    Some are believed to have been ethnic Poles living in Ukraine and executed in 1937-38, along with Ukrainians and others, for alleged anti-Soviet activity.
     
    Others are thought to be victims of the so-called Katyn massacre, the execution by Soviet authorities of more than 21,700 Polish military officers, intellectuals and priests in the Katyn forest in western Russia and elsewhere.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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