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  2. Human remains were found in the Kamenny Bor Park in Karelia. Activists protesting against its development believe that they might belong to the Red Army soldiers

Human remains were found in the Kamenny Bor Park in Karelia. Activists protesting against its development believe that they might belong to the Red Army soldiers

Alya Gratch
The Kamenny Bor Park after the work of graders
Photo by the author
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On April 19, residents of Petrozavodsk were walking their dog in the park and found a fragment of a bone, presumably human, on the territory of the Kamenny Bor ('Stone Forest') Park dug up by construction machinery. Since the site was a scene of the Great Patriotic War, activists who protect the park from development suggested that the remains could belong to soldiers of the Red Army.

– I heard a girl shouting to the dog: "Out, drop it!" - says Olga Truzhnikova, one of the keepers of the forest. – I looked at them and saw that the dog was holding something that looked like a dark stick in its mouth. As I got closer, I realized it could be a bone. We called the police.

According to activists, the police were skeptical about the call and even laughed, suggesting that this was another way to draw attention to the construction issue. But when they saw the find, they also assumed that it was a bone.

– While they were taking photos of the remains and interviewing the owners of the dog, I squatted down next to the blade and noticed another similar fragment three meters away from me; having examined it, the police assumed that it was also a bone.

Nadezhda Bragina, the chairman of the Board of the Association of Searching Groups of Karelia, believes that the color, size, and thickness of this find are similar to those of the remains recovered during search operations. According to her, there is a possibility that these are the remains of a person, possibly the Red Army soldier.

Both finds were recovered by the police, they should be sent for examinations. Activists suggested that possible human remains could have been scattered throughout the park by working machinery that removed the top layer of soil and it could complicate the search greatly in perspective. However, they do not exclude that the discovery of remains may affect the progress of the construction work. The administration of Petrozavodsk told 7x7 that they would not give comments on this topic. The Prosecutor's office could not answer the question of the correspondent quickly at the time of publication.

The developer began to cut down two sections in the Kamenny Bor Park in February 2020. The first land plot is leased by SU-149 LLC. It was initially planned to build a motocross track there, but then the Ministry of Sports of Karelia reported that a sports and recreation center would be built on the land plot. It is planned to build a kindergarten for 280 people on the other land plot under the contract of the Karelian government. The government contract was received by the TechExpert Company, Moscow. The developer dismantled a memorial sign to soldier Yakov Stepanov that had been installed at the supposed place of his death. The town administration reported after this incident that the monument would be restored in the autumn of 2020 as soon as the kindergarten was completed.

The defenders of the Kamenny Bor Park tried to stop the construction on their own, considering the felling of trees unacceptable. They went to the construction site and interrupted the work, recorded video addresses to the authorities and expressed their protest at meetings with officials. The police drew up administrative reports against some activists. Late in March, defenders of the park filed a lawsuit against the administration of Petrozavodsk to recognize the allocation of an area of 280 m² for the construction of a kindergarten illegal, because it contradicts the norms of the Town Planning Code. While the claim is being considered in court, construction in the park continues. This land plot is located in the health care facilities zone where pre-school, primary and secondary general educational institutions can be built.

Defenders applied to the Department of Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for Petrozavodsk and the Prosecutor’s office in March. The prosecutor’s investigation ascertained the takeover of 580 m² in the Kamenny Bor Park by the developer, LLC TechExpert, on March 26. The employees of the Prosecutor’s office considered that the administration had committed several violations when issuing permits for the land clearing, the Prosecutor’s office passed on recommendation to the Mayor’s office. It is being under consideration. Pre-investigation check is being carried out in order to estimate damage caused by cutting down the trees in the Kamenny Bor Park.

The work in the park was temporarily put on hold during the proceedings with law enforcement agencies. But the construction continued as soon as TechExpert LLC obtained a permit from the Ministry for Economic Development and Industry of the Republic of Karelia to work during the period of combating coronavirus. Nevertheless, on April 12, the defenders installed a new memorial sign to Yakov Stepanov, a soldier of the destruction battalion.


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