A picture of Kolesnikov’s grandfather David Traub at his home in Moscow. AFP / Natalia KOLESNIKOVA
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Andrei Kolesnikov laid out the letters his grandfather sent home from the Stalinist labor camp where he eventually died after eight years as a political prisoner.It has been eight decades since the start of the Great Terror that saw countless innocent victims across the Soviet Union executed or sent to the Gulag camps – and 25 years since the USSR itself finally ceased to exist.But a fight over the historical truth – and memory – of the crimes of the Soviet regime still drags on in Russia as the current authorities under President Vladimir Putin stand accused of trying to minimize the dark chapters of the past in a bid to bolster their own grip on power.Earlier this month human rights group Memorial – which has been battling for decades to shine a light on Soviet abuses – released a database with the names and some biographical details of around 40,000 people who served in the Stalin-era NKVD secret police from 1935-39 .In a poll from the independent Levada center earlier this year around 26 percent of people said Stalin's repressions could be justified, and almost 20 percent of those aged 18-24 had never heard of them.Digging into the past is an important personal mission for descendants of Stalin's victims such as Kolesnikov.
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