Every year, a small group of locals travels the 550 kilometers northwest from this Siberian city to Nazinsky Island, in the middle of the Ob River, to place a wreath at the foot of a wooden cross. It is a gesture of remembrance for the victims of the horrific events that unfolded there in the summer of 1933.
“Every year in June, we place a wreath at the cross that was placed on the island in 1993,” Valeria Shtatolkin told RFE/RL. “But this year, we couldn’t go. The water was too high, and the island is almost entirely flooded.”
Their dedication to the pilgrimage is part of an effort to remind fellow Russians of an experiment in social engineering and self-sufficiency that went tragically wrong for many of the “settlers” lured by Soviet authorities under Josef Stalin — whose brutal excesses have frequently been downplayed under Russia’s current leadership in favor of a more forgiving historical interpretation of Stalin’s three-decade rule…
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