A mass grave from the Soviet era resurfaces as a modern-day Russian political scandal

Who’s buried in the Sandarmokh forest north of Petrozavodsk? In 1997, an excavation crew led by Memorial’s Yuri Dmitriev discovered evidence that it’s the final resting grounds of an estimated 7,500 political prisoners executed by the Soviet police in 1937. A memorial stone surrounded by flowers and wreaths now marks the spot. Lately, however, Dmitriev has been on trial for child abuse, and the Russian Military Historical Society has decided that at least some of the bodies buried at Sandarmokh belong to Red Army soldiers gunned down by the Finns in the 1939-1940 “Winter War.” In late August, the society even sent a team to dig up more remains, searching for proof of buried Soviet soldiers.