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Revolutionary Youth Group Hangs Solzhenitsyn Effigy on Moscow Gulag Museum

On Oct. 9, a group called the Revolutionary Communist Youth Union (RCYU) hung an effigy of writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the gate of the Gulag Museum in Moscow, Diletant and other Russia media reported on Monday evening.

Roman Romanov, director of the museum, told The Moscow Times that the guard spotted it and took it down within a few minutes. He said that security video showed two people, a young man and woman, hanging the figure before running away.

The group posted on their website a photograph of the effigy of Solzhenitsyn, whom they call “that malicious anti-Soviet liar,” with a placard pinned to the figure’s chest.  On the placard is verse calling the Nobel prize-winning author of “The Gulag Archipelago” a “traitor who loved to mock truth and shamelessly lied about the Gulag.”

The verse goes on to accuse the museum of perpetuating Solzhenitsyn’s “lies” and states that the “traitor and traitorous museum” belong together.

By evening on Monday, journalist Alexander Minkin had written an open letter to President Vladimir Putin in the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper about the incident and the current trend for historical revisionism.

Romanov said that the museum is filing a complaint with the police and hopes that the guilty parties will be prosecuted, although in legal terms, the act is probably only hooliganism. “But in any case,” he said, “It’s a signal to the new education minister. This is ultimately the result of how and what children have been taught.”

The museum, founded in 2001 by Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, a well-known historian who was himself incarcerated in his youth as the son of an “enemy of the people,” opened in 2004. In 2015, it moved to a larger dedicated building. In addition to exhibits from and about the Gulag camps, the museum has a cinema hall, research center, library, publishing house, and volunteer center. The museum works with the Moscow city department of education to give excursions to schoolchildren.

“We have a good relationship with the Moscow education department,” Romanov said. “But it’s clear from this and other incidents that the Education Ministry on the federal level must reconsider the school program. Some people are probably just paid to carry out acts like this. They just pretend to think it’s a lie. But others think ‘when you cut down trees, chips fly’ — that the few victims were nothing compared to the great state that was built. That’s dangerous thinking, because someone who believes that is capable of doing the same thing.”

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