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A LETTER OF MEMORY. Indifferent citizens of Perm returned to the family of a repressed man his last address

by балабанова

“The warm and sunny day of August 3, 1937, was the day the state ruined my life. It broke into our home, turned it upside down, and took it away, expelling me from my own walls. But worst of all, it took my father away. Forever.” Such was the day for Yevgeny, the son of an “enemy of the people,” convicted Fyodor Ivanovich Russkih. The boy was ten years old at the time.

The echo of those distant days lingers in the memory of Natalia, daughter of Evgeny Russkih and granddaughter of Fyodor Ivanovich. Who had never seen her grandfather. In the letter the woman sent to the coordinator of the project “The Last Address” the shadows of the past come alive in our imagination again. As if it were yesterday. As if it continues today.

“Is there a new tenant in apartment #4? Where has the happy family that lived here for years gone?” – The Russkys’ sudden disappearance raises as many questions among the neighbors as the NKVD employee’s move into this apartment. Everyone is aware of the horror of what is happening, but silently continue to live their lives, erasing from memory those who have been “erased” by the state.

The chilly and overcast day of May 26, 2022 is the day my father finally returned to his home. – I would like to believe that Evgeny Fedorovich would have seen this day as such.

Alexander Chernyshev, the organizer of the action, and Irina Yasyreva, a representative of the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Perm Region

A memorial plaque with the name of Fyodor Ivanovich Russky on the wall of the house number 51 on Gorky Street. Now we remember too…

Letter from Natalia Russky, granddaughter of Fyodor Ivanovich Russky

Dear friends, thank you all for gathering here today! Thank you for being ready to share this important and exciting event with our family. You have no idea how much we wish we could stand beside you now, on the spot where the house where the happy family of Fyodor Ivanovich Russkikh, our grandfather, with his beloved wife and son once lived, once stood!

We had waited so long for this day, corresponded with Alexander Chernyshev, the coordinator of the “Last Address” project, prepared for the trip, but at first the kovid interfered, and then the events in Ukraine changed the plans of many, including us.

I, Fyodor Ivanovich’s eldest granddaughter, Natalya Evgenyevna Russkikh, and the last member of the family to carry the surname Russkikh.

I was born 20 years after my grandfather was shot. And neither I, nor my younger sister Lena had a chance to meet him in person. Our grandmother and father saw Fyodor Ivanovich for the last time on that warm and sunny day, August 3, 1937, when he unexpectedly returned from work early accompanied by an escort. He had been arrested at work and brought home on foot, under escort, to be searched there.

Our dad, Evgeny Fedorovich Russkikh, was 10 years old at the time, but the events of that August day stuck so deeply in his childhood memory that even many years later he would recount in detail the details of the search in their apartment. How the people who came had dug through books and magazines, trying to find some dirt. Fyodor Ivanovich was fond of technology, subscribed to magazines on automotive, aircraft construction, hunting weapons. And those conducting the search were so carried away with looking through magazines that the senior officer shouted at them not to forget why they had come here.

Fyodor Ivanovich worked at Molotov Plant No. 172, head of the scrap metal depot. He lived in a house on Solikamskaya Street, house number 41, with his wife Shurochka, Alexandra Pavlovna, his son Zhenya and his wife’s parents.

The grandfather’s arrest, the declaration of him as an enemy of the people and the subsequent confiscation of his property and eviction from his apartment, which was occupied by the investigator Belyaev, changed the life of the whole family. My grandmother, left without a husband at the age of 30, never remarried.

Dad grew up without a father, the way to the institute was closed for him. He graduated from the Military Mechanical College and worked as a metalworker all his life. It seems that the stigma of being the son of an enemy of the people accompanied him even after Fyodor Ivanovich’s rehabilitation in 1959. He, an experienced metallurgist and chief specialist on German quenching furnaces of the firm Eichelen at the Bryansk Automobile Plant, was never allowed to go on a work trip abroad.

In September of this year will be 85 years since the arrest and execution of Fyodor Ivanovich Russki on September 20, 1937. Our father learned about the real fate of his father many years later (57 years after the execution) in 1994, when after perestroika the archives were opened and at his request to the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation unexpectedly broke the truth that Fyodor Ivanovich Russkih, born in 1893, was shot on September 20, 1937. And he didn’t die of tetanus in the camps in 1944, as the family was told on Grandma’s inquiry in 1947 when the 10-year ban on correspondence came out.

We are very grateful to the members of the Perm branch of the “Memorial*” Society, all participants in the “Last Address” project, and especially our curator Alexander Chernyshov for your noble and difficult work of restoring and removing from oblivion the names of people whose lives were taken, whose names were sullied, and whose truth was concealed for many years by lies and the “secret” label.

After 84 years we finally found out where our grandfather was shot and where his body is buried. We will surely come to his grave on the 12th km of Moskovsky Trakt in Sverdlovsk region, where there is now Memorial to the victims of repressions.

His wife Shurochka and his only son, Zhenya, are no longer alive, but Fyodor Ivanovich lives on in the memory of his granddaughters and great-grandchildren. We will tell his great-grandchildren about him and those bitter pages in our country’s history when they are a little older.

Many thanks to all of you who listened to our history today and shared our pain.

May this period of our history never happen again and nothing like this touch you, as well as your loved ones.

*- Declared a “foreign agent.” Just as he was once declared an “enemy of the people.”