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MOSCOW: Russians commemorated the victims of Stalinist terror on Sunday, more than 20 months into Moscow’s Ukraine offensive that has been accompanied at home by a major crackdown on dissent.

The Kremlin has doubled down on its version of history as troops fight in Ukraine, which often glosses over Stalinist crimes, with public commemoration of Soviet-era repression seen as unpatriotic.

Many Russians took part in the “Returning of the Names” event organised by Nobel Prize winning Memorial — a rights and historical memory group shut down weeks before Moscow launched its 2022 military campaign.

Every year, the event sees people taking turns to read out the names of people executed during Stalin’s Terror between 1936 and 1938.

In Moscow, it is traditionally held at the Solovetsky Stone memorial to victims, opposite the Lubyanka headquarters of the KGB, now occupied by its modern successor FSB.

But Memorial said ahead of the event that authorities banned it from holding the commemoration on the central Lubyanka Square.

AFP reporters said the site was encircled by metal barriers, with police gathered there.

Oleg Orlov, Memorial’s co-chair recently fined for denouncing the Ukraine campaign, still came to the stone to pay his respects. Several Western ambassadors, including the US envoy, laid flowers there.

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