A regional official raised eyebrows this week when he claimed that Russia has never cracked down on dissidents in its violence-prone history.
“I note that we’ve never, even in the days of tsarist Russia, killed people for dissent,” Magadan governor Sergei Nosov told the self-described nationalist zavtra.ru outlet in an interview published Wednesday.
“That, by the way, is the strength of our people,” Nosov added.
Nosov’s own region in Russia’s Far East, more than 10,000 kilometers from Moscow, reportedly held 740,000 prisoners from across the Soviet Union between 1932 and 1953. According to official prison records, 130,000 of those died and another 10,000 were shot and killed during the period.
Conservative estimates say nearly 700,000 people were executed in Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937-38. The Memorial human rights group keeps a database tallying some three million victims of Soviet repression.
Memorial estimates there were 54 political prisoners in Russia as of Oct. 30, 2018, the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression commemorated since the fall of the Soviet Union.