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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,
Today is a special memorable date: October 30 has been marked in our country for over 25 years as the national Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Repression.
It is very important that we all and future generations – this is of great significance – know about, and remember this tragic period in our history when entire social groups and entire peoples were cruelly persecuted, including workers, peasants, engineers, military commanders, clergy, government employees, scientists and cultural figures.
Neither talent, nor services to the Motherland, nor sincere devotion to it could help avoid repression, because unwarranted and absolutely absurd charges could be brought against anyone. Millions of people were declared ‘enemies of the people’, shot or mutilated, or suffered in prisons, labour camps or exile.
This terrifying past cannot be deleted from national memory or, all the more so, be justified by any references to the so-called best interests of the people.
The history of our country, like that of any other country, has plenty of difficult and controversial stages. People argue about them, discuss them, offering different approaches to explaining various events.
This is a natural process of learning history and seeking the truth. However, when we are speaking about the repression, death and suffering of millions of people, it will only take a visit to the Butovo memorial site or other common graves of victims of repression, of which there are quite a few in Russia, to realise that these crimes cannot be justified in any way.
Political repression has become a tragedy for all our people, all our society and dealt a harsh blow to our people, its roots, culture and self-consciousness. We are still feeling its consequences.
Our duty is to not let it slip into oblivion. Remembrance, a clear and unambiguous position and assessments with regard to those sad events serve as a powerful warning against their recurrence.
Two years ago, the Government adopted the State Policy Concept for Perpetuating the Memory of the Victims of Political Repression. A Memorial Fund was created.
The idea of a monument to the victims of political repression was born in the distant years of the ‘thaw’, but such memorials were created only in the past decades.
Today, we will open the Wall of Sorrow in downtown Moscow. A grand, poignant monument both in its message and implementation. It appeals to our conscience and sentiment, calling for a deep and honest understanding of the period of repression, and empathy for its victims.
Huge gratitude goes to sculptor Georgy Frangulyan and the Moscow Government, which assumed the bulk of the expenses, and the citizens who contributed their personal savings to build this monument.
In closing, I would like to ask Ms Natalia Solzhenitsyna permission to quote her, ”To know, to remember, to condemn. And only then to forgive.“ I fully agree with these words.
Indeed, we and our descendants must remember the tragedy of repression and what caused it. However, this does not mean settling scores. We cannot push society to a dangerous line of confrontation yet again.
Now, it is important for all of us to build on the values of trust and stability. Only on this basis will we be able to achieve the goals of our society and our country, which is one for us all.
I would like to thank once again the sculptor who designed this monument. I would also like to thank everyone who took part in making it possible. It is important for us, important for the entire country now, and still more important for the young people, who are the future of Russia.
Thank you very much.