Ukraine marks Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Repression

Ukraine marks Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Repression

Today Ukraine is marking Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression.

According to the Decree of the President of Ukraine, dated May 21, 2007, on the third Sunday of May, Ukraine annually marks Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression to honor the memory of those affected and to draw public attention to the tragic events in Ukraine’s history, which had been caused by the violent implementation of the communist ideology.

The number of victims of political repression in Ukraine cannot be counted – these are incredible figures. Some experts believe that, from the early 1920s to the late 1980s, i.e. during the time of the Bolshevik Communist regime, about 1.5 million people were arrested in Ukraine (more than 50% of them were Ukrainians). A huge number of them were shot, and the rest went through prisons, exile, expulsion (about 3 million Ukrainians), penal labor, camps, forced psychiatric treatment.

Terror and repression affected almost all strata of the Ukrainian population: scientists, politicians, military, priests, cultural figures, and peasants. Mass repression perpetrated by the Stalinist regime and its supporters in Ukraine in the 1930s became a particularly difficult and painful legacy of the past. For example, in Ukraine in 1937–1938, a total of 198,918 people were sentenced, including about two-thirds of them to death. The rest were sent to prisons and camps.

For decades, the Soviet authorities had been thoroughly hiding the traces of their crimes. In particular, the KGB regime facilities were erected at the burial sites, the ground was filled with concrete, the area was leveled with bulldozers, and trees were planted.

One of the tragic symbols of that era is Kyiv’s Bykivnia Forest, where Ukraine’s largest burial site of the victims of mass political repression is located. Here, a special purpose facility of the NKVD used to be, where the mass burial of those shot and tortured was taking place in the 1930s and 1940s.

One of the bloodiest was the night of May 19, 1938 in Kyiv, when 563 people were shot in NKVD prisons. The Bykivnia tragedy stands in the same row with such crimes as Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau, Babyn Yar, and the Katyn massacre. To date, the names of more than 19,000 executed citizens from the Bykivnia graves have already been established.

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