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Communist Victims' Names Released
By MARIA DANILOVA
MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's leading human rights groups released a list Wednesday of more than a million of people who fell victim of Communist purges during Josef Stalin's government - an attempt to draw public attention to the Soviet crimes in a society still divided over his legacy.
The 1,345,796 names, compiled on a CD-ROM along with brief biographies of the victims, represent only a small portion of those who suffered in the purges, but are all the cases that activists have been able to document so far.
Stalin came to power after the death of Soviet founder V.I. Lenin in 1924 and began a reign of terror that lasted nearly three decades, ending only with his death in 1953. An estimated 20 million people were executed, imprisoned or deported to other parts of the former Soviet Union. Altogether, 10 million are believed to have died.
``This list is intended to help people search for their relatives who suffered repressions,'' said Arseny Roginsky, chairman of the Memorial human rights group. ``But it also is a warning to the society and the authorities about what happens in a country where power is unchecked by the society.''
The CD contains the names of those on the so-called ``Stalin's lists'' - some 44,000 people tried for political offenses on Stalin's personal orders, the majority of whom were executed.
It also has maps and statistics about the Soviet gulag, or labor camp system, and the location of monuments to victims of Soviet repression.
Alexander Yakovlev, an ex-member of the Communist Party Politburo and a key architect of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's democratic reforms, said the project was ``an important sign of the penitence of the society.''
``Unfortunately, a part of our society would like to forget about this terror, while another part doesn't know about it or doesn't believe it,'' said Yakovlev, who now heads the presidential commission for rehabilitation of victims of repression.
A recent poll conducted by the independent ROMIR agency found 45 percent of respondents saying that Stalin played a largely positive role in Russia's history. Also, Stalin was named the second most successful Russian leader since the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, ceding first place only to President Vladimir Putin.
The nationwide poll of 1,500 gave its margin of error as 2.6 percentage points.
Yury Samodurov, head of the Moscow's Sakharov museum, named after the late Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, complained that the project received no help from the government either financially or in terms of access to state archives.
The state ``is not striving to acknowledge the fact that this (repression) was a crime,'' he said.