August 23, 2023

No Entry to the Cemetery


No Entry to the Cemetery
Pro-Kremlin activists block the entrance to the Levashovskoe Cemetery, holding signs that call Poles terrorists. Obshchestvo Memorial, Telegram.

On August 20, pro-Kremlin activists and Levashovskoe Cemetery employees blocked a delegation of Polish diplomats and human rights activists from entering the St. Petersburg burial site. The diplomats had gathered to commemorate those killed during the NKVD's "Polish Operation," a genocide that killed 200,000 Poles during the Great Terror.

To the surprise of the Polish delegation and the human rights organization Memorial Society, the gates of the Levashovskoe Cemetery were closed. Cemetery employees denied access to the mourners, claiming they were conducting a sanitary inspection of potentially hazardous trees. Simultaneously, the "Volunteer Company," a pro-Kremlin activist organization, picketed and blocked entry to the cemetery. Diplomats instead held a ceremony just outside the grounds, with the Consul General of Poland and diplomatic representatives of Germany, Sweden, and Norway in attendance.

In July, a monument dedicated to Polish victims of Stalin's repressions was vandalized and then disappeared. A source told TASS the memorial was being repaired, but the Polish Consulate continues to demand an explanation.

An estimated 40,000 victims of disappearances and executions of Stalin's regime lie in Levashovskoe Cemetery. Four thousand were Polish.

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