Our locomotive is lying in the mud ...

Our locomotive is lying in the mud ...

Frankly speaking, I did not intend to interfere with the polemics regarding the re-erection of Stalin’s memorial in Kureyka at all, but when I saw how respected people unable to handle information properly heaped insults and abuse on other respected people, I decided to utter my opinion in the name of the person accused as principal of the first degree and try to explain the way of acting, which lead to this tense situation.

It goes hard with me to match myself against the journalists of the „Krasnoyarskiy Rabochiy“ and the chairman of the Krasnoyarsk „Memorial“ Organization, Mr. Babiy, when appearing before the public. Everything they are dealing with deserves deep respect. All the less I can understand their insulting intonation towards opponents and their allusions to supposed political orders, which is totally lacking in logics. Don’t they understand that there is no way back to the past? Why do people with different opinions and outlooks upon life clash in this way? I am able to swallow any doubts in my mental power, even though it is painful to me, but why do they insult the head of the district of Turukhansk and the counsellor of the governor? And what kind of a political advantage of the authorities to they have in mind? Explain this to me, me, a simple voter and citizen of this country.

And there is yet another question. Why do these fighters for human rights, who have been to Kureyka only for a short time, talk about the ruined pantheon and about moral aspects of the rebuilding of Stalin’s memorial, instead of mentioning the situation of the people living in this godforsaken village at least with one word? And where did these professionals take the particulars about the dimensions of the statue, the costs of the project, speculations and possibilities to raise the old statue from the bottom of the Yenisey, as well as all those surmises about the plundering of Yermakovo by the Turukhansk administration from?

And why do they persist in silence about the fact that it is just the head of the district of Turukhansk, Simon Yurchenko, who decided to take care and sounded the alarm in time with regard to the other historical relics of Stalin’s epoch – the two locomotives of the notorious GULAG building site No. 503, which almost got ruined by mud. Due to the passivity of those, who should feel responisble for the preservation of these objects, the locomotives would certainly have been crushed during the break-up of the ice in this spring.

Those who live along the river Those who live along the river Yenisey are very well aware of the fact, which damages ice drift might cause. Nobody gave the historical exhibits away for scrapping. Workers of the Kureysk hydroelectric power station, who supervised this extremely complicated project, succeeded in rescuing the unique, rare objects. One should bow and express one’s thanks to them, instead of bringing an action against them. At present the locomotives are kept at the landing stage in Svetlogorsk. And it is now within the responsibility of the head of the district to decide, where to place them as a permanent memorial, a place where they are treated with due respect and care.

Nowadays, every municipal structure is responsible itself for its complex social and economical situation, its image and perspectives regarding its further development. The people are interested in their little home grounds, the development of local economy, the exploitation of natural, intellectual, administrative and other resources. It allows the population to participate in the search of financial means, including opportunities of making money, to solve social problems and create an up-to-date infrastructure. Tourism is one of the plans of the strategic development of the district of Turukhansk to be realized by 2010.

I am in a position to let my opponents know that the idea to re-erect Stalin’s memorial, the pantheon and on e of the camp zones of the GULAG – the construction site No. 503 – is based on my personal initiative and that the authorities have nothing to do with these plans. The project has been under preparation for the past six years. Business, too, have a feeling of patriotism. Whenever our own, as well as foreign, tourists ask the question about why there is no historical park, where the unique architecture of those times is exhibited, there is nothing else we can do but shrug our shoulders and keep silent.

By the way, instead of the one German woman, Mr. Babiy is acquainted with, who would refrain from a trip on the river Yenisey, as soon as there will appear a statue and memorial to the honour of Stalin, I would be prepared to get ten Japanese being interested in such a sight. We will continue to look at the West to see how we have to behave here in Russia, but nevertheless we will feel free to say: „See, this is our history! In many respects this history took a tragic course, but it is also magnificent with regard to its victories!“ Nobody, except us, the citizens of our country, can preserve history for our descendants, no matter how tragic it was.

Sincerely yours
„The unknown businessman from the district of Turukhansk“
Director of the „TET“ Ltd.


Such a moving letter reached the editorial office of the „Today’s Newspaper“. If I am not mistaken, opponents of the initiator of the Kureyka project made their opinion known to Mikhail Ponomarev on the pages of the „Krasnoyarsk Rabochiy“ – not without a number of hurtful insults. Mikhail Ponomarev, in return, now decided to have his reply published in „Today’s Newspaper“. In general, we do not appreciate such tactics. But when someone cannot utter his opinion elsewhere and when the subject is interesting, then there is, of course, no reason why to refrain from publishing the letter, the more since it was written frankly and with a certain concern.

I immediately recalled the recent TV debate regarding the Red and the White and Nikita Mikhalkov’s imploring shout at the end of the program: „Guys, do you really think we have nothing in common?“ A whole century passed by, and we are still knocking eachother’s teeth out, standing closely to an abyss. And, evidently, we have learned nothing from what our blood-stained history taught us. If we do not stop being that obstinate, all of us will fall into this abyss one day. Is the situation that difficult to comprehend?

Let’s come back to the subject. Personally, I am agianst the rebuilding of Stalin’s memorial. Don’t be angry with me, Mikhail, but a memorial is no house of God being entitled to eternity. Any memorial you like has its time. And when times are changing and a memorial is not wanted any longer – well, that’s how it is! It would be very strange to rather see the grandeur of a ruler without considering the tragedy of a whole country, of a whole people, which happened behind his back by closing one’s eyes before the victims resulting from his rule. When Stalin’s pantheon was built, nobody was thinking of the people, whose bones cover your district of Turukhansk – it was just meant as a favour to the leader. Half a century later, however, we take an entirely different view of this. We have the right to express our opinion, when such a memorial is to be erected. But we need a new one, a contemporary one - of us. This is what I think.

It is nice, of course, that there are businessmen, who care about the past and present of their fatherland. It is nice to learn that people are prepared to make available financial means to build a memorial place. However, it is always wothwhile to deeply think about one thing: for who, to whose honour do we intend to put up a statue or even construct a whole memorial place? And it is important that we think of all those people, who you mention in your letter, Mikhail, those who can hardly manage to earn their living. All aspects have to be considered carefully. Impatience leads to nothing. I would be pleased to hear the opinions of our readers, about whether they agree with me or not. But when you decide to write to us, do not forget about the locomotives lying in the mud. Some time ago people believed that there will only be a stop in the commune – this is at least what the leaders of that time told them.

„Today’s Newspaper“ – 06.07.06