Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Window on Eurasia: Russians Mark 75th Anniversary of Pavlik Morozov’s Killing

Paul Goble

Vienna, September 4 – The anniversaries of Beslan, Khasavyurt and Kondopoga have attracted more attention this year, but as in the past, a small group of Russians met on Sunday to commemorate Pavlik Morozov, the young man killed by his relatives after turning in his parents during collectivization on September 3, 1932.
In Soviet times, communist officials held up Morozov as a model Soviet citizen, more committed to serving the communist system that protecting his own family. More recently, religious and other anti-communist groups have denounced his actions as a symbol of all that was wrong with the Soviet past.
But the organizers of this year’s commemoration sought to chart a middle course. Nina Kupratsevich, the director of the Pavlik Morozov Museum in the village of Gerasimovka, said that her focus was on “a tragedy” in which “the children [Morozov’s brother was also killed] were not guilty” (http://www.nr2.ru/ekb/137680.html).
According to the news agency account, the graves of Morozov and his brother were covered with flowers on this, the 75th anniversary, giving some support for Kupratsevich’s claim that memories of Pavlik Morozov remain very much alive not only in his native village but “throughout Sverdlovsk oblast.”
She added that she or other curators in the region did not support proposals to change the name of the museum she oversees to the museum of collectivization because “the name of Pavlik Morozov generates much greater interest among people than does collectivization.”
At the same time, she continued, she and her fellow museum workers go out of their way in their meetings with visitors not only to talk about “the tragedy of Pavlik Morozov” but also about the broader destruction of the countryside in his region during collectivization.
Indeed, she said, one of the major projects of the Pavlik Morozov Museum now is to gather genealogical information on all the residents of the region who were connected in one way or another with the history of the peasantry there and its fate during Stalin’s collectivization drive.
But despite this attention, this museum faces an uncertain future: Its location far from major urban areas makes it difficult for many to visit the site, and the museum’s longstanding efforts to raise money for its own bus to bring people in so far have come up short.

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