Victims of Soviet Terror: The Story of the Memorial Movement

By Nanci Adler | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 8
The Politics of Memorial

Thus far we have been recounting three overlapping histories--the period under Stalin, the larger period with which Memorial is occupied and the history of Memorial itself. The dividing line between historical investigation and political exposé is a fine one. It may depend on whether the people and events under scrutiny are dead or alive. Studying the Tsar is history; studying Gorbachev is history and politics. In between is the study of Lenin and Stalin. Are they indeed dead or, as Memorial fears, still very much alive and very political? Regardless of anyone's wish that Memorial hew to a narrow definition of historical enlightenment, it has little choice but to be active on behalf of its growing constituency. It must do so for at least two reasons: the first is to stay alive in the face of active opposition; the second is to fulfill its humanistic promise.

During March and April 1990, campaign leaflets and posters from Memorial and Democratic Russia could be found all over the Tagansky district of Moscow, endorsing Alexander Vologodsky, the "democratic" candidate and Memorial photography coordinator, as district representative to the Moscow City Council. One of these, on a Memorial letterhead, stated: "by voting for the candidate supported by MEMORIAL, you are voting for: legally based government, political and economic freedom, civil peace . . . and freedom of word, religion, and political party."1 It was signed by Adamovich and Afanasyev as People's Deputies and leading figures in Memorial. Another such endorsement from the bloc known as Democratic Russia was signed by Gavriil Popov, then mayor of Moscow. Technically, Memorial was not allowed to nominate candidates (as was

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