A remarkable conference took place on February 1, 2011, in the children’s library of the city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals. The conference was initiated by Dmitri Medvedev, then president of the Russian Federation, and organized by the Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights, an institution close to the president’s administration. Participants included representatives of social organizations, historians, and prominent members of NGOs like Memorial. Yekaterinburg was home to the family of the last czar, Nicholas II, murdered in 1918. Now it became the site of a conference called to discuss the program “On the immortalization of memory of the victims of totalitarian rule and on national reconciliation.” The program set out ambitious goals: to establish memorials, monuments, and commemorative museum compounds; to insure access to cemeteries and burial sites; to publish so-called memorial books and create an integrated database of the victims of repression; and to improve social and welfare programs for survivors of repression, including an increase in pension rates to be financed by the federal budget. The program also sought to guarantee easier access to archives; to declassify categories of documents previously closed to the public; to enable judicial review and reevaluation of crimes committed by the totalitarian regime; to complete the process of rehabilitating victims of state terror; to expand and improve information and education about state violence; and to revise the names of Russian cities, streets, squares, institutions, etc.
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