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Pictorial essay: Death trenches bear witness to Stalin's purges

July 17, 1997
Web posted at: 4:07 p.m. EDT (2007 GMT)

SANDERMAKH, Russia (CNN) -- Amid the low hills and picturesque streams of Karelia, a republic in northwest Russia, excavators unearthed more than 9,000 bodies of political prisoners -- a horrific reminder of the nation's past.

The bodies were found earlier this month by members of a Russian historical society known as Memorial. The victims were the result of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's purges of the 1930s, carried out by the NKVD, later known as the KGB.

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