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MOSCOW, April 7. /TASS/. Supporters and fans of Joseph Stalin should visit the memorial compound on the grounds of the former Butovo testing range in southern Moscow to study true history of the Stalin era there and to sober up there, Metropolitan Hillarion, the chief of Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations said on Monday.
He said it on a talk show hosted by the Russian liberal TV presenter Vladimir Posner in a comment on a recent opinion poll, which showed one-third of Russians approved the role Stalin had played in history.
Historical and forensic assessments suggest that more than 20,000 people were executed at the Butovo firing range between 1938 and 1953.
His Eminence Hillarion, who is one of the top hierarch in the Russian Orthodox Church at present, pointed out two aspects of the problem of Stalin’s popularity with some sections of Russian society today.
"We know there are historic merits on the part of all those who steered World War II (combat operations) on our side because we won in that war; we didn’t lose it and there’s no underestimating their achievements but it’s equally true there were the repressions that took away millions of human lives," he said.
"All of this was a fact of reality and we shouldn’t close our eyes to the genocide of this country’s population," Metropolitan Hillarion said.
"I think to some people should go to the Butovo firing range to sober up," he said. "There’s a museum there, with the photos of people. The museum materials tell us 200 to 300 to 400 people would be taken their daily and executed by shooting after dark."
His Eminence Hillarion said he had familiarized himself with the lists of the people killed there.
"There were the fifteen-year-olds and sixteen-year-olds among them," he said. "What were those kids shot dead for? What damage could a fifteen-year-old child do to the government so that it would be necessary to execute him or her in this treacherous way."
"God’s miraculous assistance has helped us restore the memorial and we know many of those who died there," Metropolitan Hillarion said. "I don’t think there can be any justification whatsoever to those horrendous crimes.".