In 1991 the remains of 83 bodies were found at the former NKVD building on Sovetskaya Street. A search had been carried out on the basis of testimony by a former NKVD employee in Kirensk who said that detainees had been shot in this building during the Great Terror.
A team made up of investigators from the prosecutor’s office, KGB officers, archaeologists from Irkutsk University and activists from Memorial opened up the brick floor and found human remains bearing signs that they had met a violent death. Thanks to the particular climatic conditions (permafrost) clothes, footwear and documents of the dead had been well preserved. Investigation by the regional prosecutor’s office confirmed that the burials had taken place in May-June 1938. Discovery of the documents of S.A. Nalunin, one of the victims, and information about NKVD procedures during executions enabled the prosecutor’s office to determine that among the bodies were 26 inhabitants of the Kirensk and Kazachino-Lensky districts who had been shot after being wrongly accused of “active participation in the activities of a counter-revolutionary, White Guard rebellious organisation” that, supposedly, was in operation in the region. They were sentenced to death by decision No. 30 (15 May 1938) by the Special Troika of the Irkutsk Region NKVD. Documents were not found in the archives confirming the date they were shot: this is presumed to have been on 5-6 June 1938. A list of names and short biographies of the 26 known victims was published in the Sovetskaya molodyozh newspaper.
After specialist analysis was completed, the remains were reburied on 26 May 1991 in a common grave in the town (Khabarovskoe) cemetery [38-45]. On the mound in the centre of the grave a wooden Orthodox cross was erected; below memorial plaques carried the names of the victims who had been identified. There are reports that another burial was found in 2006 during building work not far from the former NKVD building on the bank of the Kirenga river. The prosecutor’s office carried out a preliminary investigation.
The incomplete Book of Remembrance, Victims of political repression in the Irkutsk Region: in Remembrance and a Future Warning (8 vols. 1998-2006), includes 25,800 biographical entries on those shot or sent to the camps. The Memorial database (2021) listed 10,609 who were shot in the Irkutsk Region during the Great Terror and 5,624 who were arrested in 1937-1938 and sent to the Gulag
|State of burials
Remains discovered in 1991 have been reburied
within the walls of the cellar
within the walls of the cellar
“The executions in the basement of the Kirensk Prison took place 53 years ago. All those shot were innocent”, Sovetskaya molodyozh, 18 May 1991
“Executions in the Kirensk Prison basement: the findings of the Irkutsk Region prosecutor’s office and the Irkutsk Region KGB chief, 15 May 1991”, “A list of the inhabitants of the Kirensk and Kazachino-Lensky districts who were shot by order (15 May 1938) of the Irkutsk Region NKVD Special Troika”, both published in Sovetskaya molodyozh, 18 May 1991
Nikolai Yerastov (prosecutor), “The victims of political repression were buried in layers” SM Nomer odin, 18 May 2005 (No. 18)
“A burial of victims of political repression has been found in Kirensk, Irkutsk Region”, Taiga info, 30 October 2006
“The history of the creation of the Kirensk district court”, Kirensk district court website, 25 March 2010
“Execution and burial site in the Kirensk NKVD building”, Virtual Museum of the Gulag [retrieved, 9 June 2022]