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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 16:09 GMT
In pictures: Putin laments Stalin purges

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Butovo on 30 October 2007

Russian President Vladimir Putin has attended a 70th anniversary memorial service for the victims of Soviet-era political repression at Butovo, just outside Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Butovo on 30 October 2007

Mr Putin joined the congregation for the Russian Orthodox ceremony at the Church of New Martyrs. More than 20,000 prisoners were shot at Butovo between 1937-8.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Butovo on 30 October 2007

In a speech outside, Mr Putin said the purges happened because "worthless ideals that seemed feasible domineered the main values - human life, human rights and freedoms".

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Butovo on 30 October 2007

He was joined by a priest whose grandfather was among those killed. Russian human rights group Memorial estimates 725,000 people died during the 1937-8 purges.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Butovo on 30 October 2007

Stopping to view photos of the dead next to floral displays at the foot of a cross dedicated to the victims, Mr Putin said: "It seems incredible, madness."

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Butovo on 30 October 2007

The Russian president, a former KGB officer, was also joined at the service by Patriarch Alexy II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Butovo on 30 October 2007

Meanwhile, in Moscow flowers were laid on Lubyanka Square by the ex-KGB building, where rights activists accused Mr Putin of curtailing Russia's post-Soviet freedoms.





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