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4 Oct, 2007 12:57

Remains found near Kremlin: victims of Stalin's repressions?

Thirty four unidentified bodies have been found in the basement of a building only five minutes walk from Moscow's Kremlin. The circumstances of their deaths, and how long they have been there, are still unclear.

Renovations in a house on Nikolskaya Street, which is in the very centre of the Russian capital, were in full swing when workers ran onto more than a dozen bodies buried in the basement.

An examination is underway, but various versions have already emerged.

One of them suggests that these people were victims of the Stalin era repressions and what the workers found is an execution site where they were allegedly shot dead in the 1930's.
Historian Aleksey Esaulov from the Repression Victims Association says this version is very plausible.
“The house on Nikolskaya Street was near the city's Military Committee and everyone knows there were executions taking place there in the basement. Afterwards, the bodies were taken to places like Butovo in the Moscow region – over 200,000 victims of repressions buried there,” he says.  
This house is also within a ten minute walk from Lubyanka, the former KGB headquarters. Historians say people were sometimes taken out of the Lubyanka building to be executed in one of the nearby houses. The upcoming examination of the bodies will show if this was the case.
Another version comes from Moscow's Cultural Heritage Committee. It suggests back in the 17th century there could have been a cemetery on the site. However, if the examination shows they were shot dead, this version will be ruled out.
The fact is Moscow's Internal Affairs administration has confirmed that a rusty gun was recovered there, too.
Experts say the enigma will remain unsolved for at least a month, when final results of the analysis are expected.