Speech at the opening of the Fourth Readings in memory of Arseniy Roginsky

It is necessary to create an International Tribunal with a special charter for the legal qualification of crimes of the communist regime of the USSR and post-communist Russia.
Yevhen Zakharov14 April 2024UA DE EN ES FR RU

Арсеній Рогінський, джерело фото: Центр захисту прав людини “Меморіал” Arseniy Roginsky, photo source: the Center for the Protection of Human Rights “Memorial” Арсений Рогинский, источник фото: Центр защиты прав человека “Мемориал”

Arseniy Roginsky, photo source: the Center for the Protection of Human Rights “Memorial”

Ladies and gentlemen! Dear friends!

I am pleased to welcome the participants to the Fourth Readings in memory of Arseniy Borisovich Roginsky, head of the International Society Memorial and my dear old friend. We met and became friends in July 1975. Arseny, a hugely charming, funny, clever fellow and a joker, immediately captivated me. Nobility, talent, and humor shone in him!

We were close all our lives and did a lot together, including the almanac “Memory” and the first actions of Memorial. Then, there was the USSR’s collapse, the International Memorial’s creation, and constant meetings on the board. “Old pal, I just can’t get used to the fact that you and I live in different countries,” — Senya told me.

He has not been with us for more than six years now, and his absence is felt more acutely every year. You constantly think: what would he say on this or that occasion, and how would he act?

In May last year, representatives of 15 memorial organizations from 9 countries registered in Geneva the International Memorial Association, the successor and continuator of the International Memorial, liquidated by the Russian court, thereby confirming that memory cannot be liquidated, and the Memorial continues. Arseny, of course, would have been very happy about this. Today, among the reading participants, there are many members of the new Association.

Much about our affairs, discussions, successes, and failures could be remembered. I will mention only one, but a cardinal one. We discussed many times how we could conduct a legal assessment of the communist regime crimes in the USSR. Still, except for Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, this was never achieved. Meanwhile, in my opinion, the legal qualification of the dictatorial cannibalistic USSR regime crimes was and remains perhaps the main task of the Memorial.

If this had been done in the early 90s, then perhaps there would have been no Chechen wars and today’s ten-year war to destroy Ukrainian culture, the Ukrainian state, and everyone who protects and supports it.

The consequences of the communist regime crimes in the USSR are terrible. As the Ukrainian genius Taras Shevchenko prophetically wrote, they concern “the dead, the living, and the unborn.” In addition to the millions who died from hunger and political repression, these crimes hit the survivors hard. They had a harmful impact on people’s social and political activity and instilled fear of the authorities. These tragic events are still reflected in the psychology of their descendants.

The post-genocide society of countries that survived communism is in dire need of a clear conscience, liberation from psychological complexes, and freedom from fear, which is impossible without public recognition of the communist regime’s actions as crimes at the legal level. Furthermore, it is the moral duty of our nations to the deceased; this is necessary to establish historical justice and strengthen the immune system of our people against political repression, violence, and unjustified state coercion.

I would like to emphasize that the Research and Educational Center of the International Memorial, under the leadership of Arseniy Roginsky, together with Memorials in other countries, has collected a massive amount of information about the crimes of the communist regime and can document them. The material includes the 1918 Red Terror, mass repressions against peasants, artificial famine in 1930—1933, “kulak” and “national operations” of the NKVD, execution lists, the legal use of torture, repressions against family members of traitors to the Motherland, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 22, 1939, the execution of Polish officers in the spring of 1940, mass deportations based on “class” and nationality, and many others.

The events of recent years have shown that it is necessary to take the next natural step — to create an International Tribunal with a special charter for the legal classification of the USSR communist regime and post-communist Russia’s crimes. And I believe the new Memorial Association has a significant role in this.

I would like to thank the organizers of the Fourth Readings in memory of Arseniy Roginsky and wish fruitful work and success to their participants.

Share this article