Polish monument removed near St. Petersburg
A monument commemorating Polish victims of Soviet repression has been removed from a cemetery near St Petersburg, the Polish consul general has reported.
Grzegorz Slubowski, the Polish consul general in St Petersburg told PAP on Tuesday that "only an empty space remains" on the site of a monument commemorating Polish victims of repression at the Cemetery of the Victims of the NKVD in Levashovo, near St Petersburg.
Slubowski said: "Shortly after receiving information about the disappearance of the monument, I went to the site. I've been there twice, on Sunday and Monday. Yesterday, a representative of the administration personally presented me with a version according to which the monument was removed because it was damaged when a tree fell on it."
The consul general added that he had not been presented with any documentation, for example photographic evidence showing the destruction of the monument or the process of its dismantling.
"It was removed, only an empty space remains," he told PAP. During the visit to the cemetery, the consul laid flowers and lit candles.
The governor of St Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, quoted by local media, presented a different version, claiming that the granite monument was supposedly damaged by vandals and taken away for restoration purposes.
"In the note sent yesterday to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we appealed for an immediate explanation on what happened to the monument and where is it currently located, as well as for it to be returned to its site as soon as possible," Slubowski said.
Information about the removal of the "Polish cross", a granite monument commemorating Polish victims of Stalinist repressions during the Great Stalinist Terror of 1937-1938, was first reported by Russian independent media.
The Levashovo Wilderness is a forest which lies on the terrain of the municipal settlement of Levashovo near St. Petersburg. It was used as a burial site for the dead and murdered from the prisons of Leningrad in the period from September 1937 to 1955, especially during the Great Stalinist Terror.
Buried there are representatives of ethnic minorities in the Soviet Union murdered according to Stalin's plan. The current cemetery is a place of commemoration of the victims of the Great Terror in Leningrad, the Soviet-era name for St Petersburg, and the Leningrad region. It is estimated that over 40,000 people are buried there, including about 4,000 Poles.