January 01, 2017

Solving a Murder

Denis Karagodin has done the impossible. After five years of research (reading old newspapers and relentless correspondence with the Federal Security Service and other institutions and archives with various levels of secrecy), he had it: the list of names of people directly responsible for the execution of his great grandfather, Stepan Karagodin.

Stepan Karagodin was a farmer and village foreman in the Russian Far East when he was arrested for the first time in October 1929. After spending time in Siberian exile, he was arrested again in 1937, in Tomsk, and shot on January 3, 1938, one of eight people executed at the same time.

The Karagodin family had tried to find out the truth about what happened to their relative, but it was his great-grandson who, through a combination of persistence and luck, managed to word his request for information from the FSB in a way that compelled them to hand over a copy of the execution notice, complete with names of the executioners who shot Karagodin and seven others accused of being Japanese spies. His research, he said, constructs a clear chain of command from Joseph Stalin all the way down to the local secret police agents who rounded up people in Tomsk, questioned them, signed their death warrants, and pulled the trigger.

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