Candles and silence drove a stake into the heart of Soviet conformity during the early evening of October 30, 1989. Individual Soviet citizens encircled KGB headquarters at Dzerzhinsky (now Lubyanka) Square. They formed a human chain around the office building of repression and its 200-cell prison. Fear once impelled people to cross Moscow streets to avoid even the shadow cast by this dreaded citadel. But on the last day in October 1989, the International Day of Political Prisoners, perhaps two thousand men and women bravely surrounded the real center of the empire that made Soviet life evil. The All-Union Society Memorial inspired and organized the encirclement.
Images generated at Dzerzhinsky Square soon captured worldwide attention. Removal of the statue honoring secret police founder Felix Dzerzhinsky ( 1877-1926) became the iconographic device, the visual metaphor for the Soviet regime's collapse following the aborted putsch of August 1991. After decades of sameness, stagnation, change's rapid swirls are remembered as conflated. It seems an age between the shocking demonstration of October 1989 and the three days that shook the world of August 1991. To Muscovites it feels like two ages between the initial, semi-clandestine meetings of the group that would become Memorial in August 1987 and the free, democratic Russia that emerged after the death of the Soviet Union's last great Stalinist, Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich ( 1893-1991), when the reactionary coup of his heirs failed. 1
Never mind that in the frantic rush of events, such as October 30, 1990, when thousands took to the streets around Lubyanka, Memorial buried