1987-1988: Gaining Support
The de-Stalinization from above was accompanied by a parallel process from below. Already in the summer of 1987, some people were setting their own course of de-Stalinization, testing the limits of glasnost. 1 The period from August through December 1987 is of special importance because it reveals much about the mission and methods of both Memorial and Soviet officialdom. In August 1987, a group in Moscow assembled as an initiative group dedicated to establishing a monument to the victims of repression. During a discussion at this meeting, they decided to call themselves "Memorial." They then proceeded to send materials on their project to Soviet press agencies, the newspaper Moskovskiye Novosti and the journal Ogonyok. The group proclaimed the principles of openness and legality. From the very beginning, Memorial emphasized the fact that their activity was in accordance with Soviet law and that they were not an underground organization, but one that adheres to the spirit and letter of the Soviet Constitution. This is explicitly stated in the Charter. There is historical precedent in referring to the rule of law. "Respect the Constitution" could be seen on posters in Pushkin Square a few months prior to the Sinyavsky and Daniel trial (see Epilogue). 2
At a meeting in October 1987, Memorial formulated a petition that requested the Supreme Soviet to permit the creation of a memorial to the victims of lawlessness and political tenor. Armed with this petition, group members began to collect signatures of support from institutions, organizations and various enterprises. 3 By the end of that month, Western newspapers began reporting on Memorial's activities for the first time.