4.2 Million Were Victims of Purges, KGB Chief Says
Vladimir Kryuchkov, head of the KGB security police, said Friday that 4.2 million people were victims of political purges in the Soviet Union between 1920 and 1953.
Two million were killed or imprisoned in 1937 and 1938, when dictator Josef Stalin’s campaign of terror was at it height, Kryuchkov said.
According to reports by Soviet television and the official news agency Tass, Kryuchkov gave the latest KGB figures on the scale of dictator Stalin’s Gulag prison camp network at a meeting with representatives of victims’ associations.
Kryuchkov said 100 common graves of political prisoners have been found and more are sure to be discovered.
The KGB and its predecessors have taken the principal role in repressing political opposition and arresting dissidents since the 1917 Communist revolution. But Kryuchkov said it was now the organization’s duty to rehabilitate innocent victims and prevent any recurrence of political persecution, Tass said.
Official Soviet historians, while acknowledging the massive purges under Stalin, tend to date their accounts from the assassination of leading Communist Sergei Kirov in 1934. But the period cited by Kryuchkov began in 1920, when revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin was still in charge. It ended in 1953, the year of Stalin’s death.