A memorial plaque dedicated to the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, which disappeared earlier this month from the former Kresty prison in St. Petersburg, has been found and handed into the police, the local Fontanka news outlet reported Thursday.
Local lawyer Vladimir Filatov admitted to removing the memorial plaque, saying he was concerned it would be damaged following an upcoming auction to sell the former prison complex.
“The [future] owner of Kresty is unknown, so the plaque could be ruined or thrown out. Therefore I decided to take it and give it to the police so that nothing would happen to it,” Filatov was quoted as saying by the Kommersant business daily.
Since May of this year, Kresty prison has been owned by the housing development company DOM.RF. Its new owners plan to sell the property at auction, with proceeds going to an organization associated with the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN).
The memorial plaque is a symbol of “historical memory in the era of globalism,” Filatov told Fontanka.
“I absolutely would not want someone to break this monument with their filthy hands.”
Akhmatova’s son, the writer Lev Gumilyov, had been imprisoned in Kresty, which held many political prisoners during Stalin’s Great Terror, for “leading an anti-Soviet youth organization.”
In 2001, a memorial plaque to Akhmatova was installed on building No. 7 — the prison’s main entrance in the 1930s.
According to Fontanka, police officers offered to return the memorial plaque to the FSIN.