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Plaques Commemorating Gulag Victims Popping Up Around Moscow

Plaques commemorating Russian citizens sent to gulag force labor camps.

At least seven plaques commemorating Russian citizens sent to gulag forced labor camps under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin have been placed on the Moscow buildings where they last resided before being apprehended by Soviet secret police, the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported Sunday.

The palm-sized plaques have been installed as part of a memorial project known as “Last Address,” and feature the names, occupations, dates of birth and death of the gulag victims, as well as the year they had their names cleared of all charges, or were “rehabilitated,” Novaya Gazeta reported.

An online crowdfunding campaign raised more than 1.5 million rubles ($22,300) in December to have the plaques installed on the former homes of Stalin's victims, and many of the plaques have been requested by surviving family members who remember where the victims were living when they were seized.

The Last Address project is not affiliated with the Russian government, Maxim Kats, a Moscow city councilman said when the project was launched in December. “Thank God they didn't interfere,” he said at the time.

While human rights groups such as the Memorial Human Rights Society — which maintains the database of victims that Last Address is using for the project — continue to draw attention to Stalin's repressions, the Soviet dictator is enjoying renewed popularity in Russia under President Vladimir Putin. 

Results of a survey conducted by the independent Levada Center in December showed that over half of Russians believe Stalin played a positive role in Russian history.

The plaques have so far been placed at Sivtsev Vrazhek 21, a residential building in central Moscow, near the Arbatskaya metro station. Two buildings on the same street have also received memorial plaques.

Last Address has also installed a plaque on a building at Bolshoi Afanasyevsky Pereulok 33, and two plaques at Ulitsa Palikha 1/13.

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