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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Grisly find beneath Russian court
Supreme Court in Moscow
The building dates back to the Stalinist era
Human remains have been discovered underneath the Russian Supreme Court in central Moscow.

Experts believe they could belong to victims of the Stalinist purges of the 1930s and 40s.

Josef Stalin
Historians believe up to 20 million Soviets died during Stalin's rule
The fragments of human bone, which came to light during renovation work, have been taken for testing.

It is not clear how many bodies could be involved.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says the discovery has triggered painful memories for a country and people who continue to live in the shadow of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's crimes.

Mass terror

The grisly find in the basement of the Supreme Court was made on Tuesday by construction workers engaged in repairs.

A spokesman for the Moscow prosecutor's office said the remains date back to the period of Stalin's mass terror against his own people.

Then, more than a million Soviet citizens were arrested, convicted in show trials and then shot.

However there is no official confirmation that the bones belong to victims of the repression.

The bone fragments are undergoing scientific tests to establish their age and cause of death.

Before the Russian revolution of 1917 a church and a cemetery stood on the site, officials said.

See also:

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