MOSCOW (Sputnik) — There is no justification for political repression that took place in the Soviet Union in the 1930's, but attempts to push the society to the brink of confrontation and calls to settle old scores must be prevented, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday.
"This terrible past can not be erased from the national memory, and it cannot be justified by anything, not even by the so-called highest interests of the welfare of the people," Putin said at the opening of the Wall of Grief memorial in the Russian capital dedicated to victims of Soviet repression.
"We and our descendants should be mindful of the tragedy of repression, of the causes that led to it, but this does not mean calling to settle old accounts as we can not again push our society to a dangerous brink of confrontation," the president said.
According to Putin, the Russian society must rely first and foremost on values of trust and stability in order to meet the challenges facing the country.
In conclusion, Putin quoted the words of Natalia Solzhenitsyna, wife of Russian novelist and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag forced labor camp system. "To know, remember, condemn and only then to forgive."
On October 30, Russia commemorates the Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Repression. The date was chosen in memory of the hunger strike, which began on October 30, 1974, by the prisoners of Mordovian and Permian camps declared as a sign of protest against political repression in the USSR.
A recent poll showed that 65 percent of Russians believe that political repression of the 1930-1940s was the initiative of the Soviet leadership, while 22 percent think that rank and file party members, law enforcement agents and the general public were initiators of the campaign.
Centenary of Russian Revolution
The Russian leader has also commented on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.
Speaking at the session of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, Putin has voiced hope that the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution would become the symbol of overcoming the split that had divided the society into two parts.
"I hope that this date will be perceived by our society as putting an end to the dramatic events that had divided the country and the nation as well and will become a symbol of overcoming this split, a symbol of mutual… acceptance of national history, as it is — with its great victories and tragic events," Putin said.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. In February-March 1917, the Russian Empire collapsed as Emperor Nicholas II abdicated. The provisional government that replaced the old one was overthrown in October the same year by the Bolsheviks.