Last Address memorial activist found guilty of damaging cultural heritage site

Last Address memorial activist found guilty of damaging cultural heritage site
A Last Address plaque for Vladimir Abramovich Nikolaev. Image: Posledny Adres / Facebook

17 August 2017

A Russian activist in Arkhangelsk has been found guilty of damaging a cultural heritage site, after installing a memorial plaque on the derelict home of a gulag victim as part of the crowd-funded Last Address (Posledny Adres) memorial project.

The Interfax news agency reported that Dmitry Kozlov has been ordered to pay a fine of 15,000 rubles ($253). Though the fine is the minimum punishment for such a charge, the decision is significant in that it is the first time an activist from the memorial project has been prosecuted, according to co-founder Sergei Parkhomenko. Mr Kozlov, who is the regional coordinator for the Last Address project, defended himself by claiming that the house was already deemed derelict and ready for demolition by the authorities.

Last Address is a volunteer-based crowd-funded project that looks to commemorate Russian citizens who were sent to labour camps during the Soviet Union, by installing metal plaques on their homes in cities across Russia. Each plaque details their name, occupation, date of birth, date of arrest and date of rehabilitation, or when the victims were cleared of all charges. A square hole in each plaque is a poignant reminder of their absence, as the victims were taken from their families, and jailed or executed without a fair trial.

First installed in December 2014, there are now over 100 plaques in Moscow, St Petersburg and other cities. A map on the project’s website pinpoints their location.

Mr Parkhomenko’s vision is to bring greater attention to the atrocities of Russia’s past, and tip the balance away from any tendency to whitewash or forget. For Mr Parkhomenko, success is when “it will be noticeable enough for people to walk past on the streets and wonder, ‘What is that?’ Children will ask, ‘What is that?’”

Source: Moscow Times