MOSCOW -- Soviet officials Sunday led the first ever official public meeting to mark the anniversary of the Nazi massacre of the Jews at Babi Yar in the Ukraine.
Lev Shapiro, a deputy of the Supreme Soviet, or parliament, opened the meeting at Vostyakov Cemetery in Moscow to mourn the killing of 33,700 Jews on Sept. 29-30, 1941, by the German occupiers of Kiev, capital of the Ukraine.
'We have gathered here to pay tribute to the memory of the Babi Yar victims -- Jews, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Moldavians, Russians, Kazakhs and Georgians -- Soviet people of many nationalities who became victims of the policy of genocide pursued by the Nazi occupiers,' Shapiro said.
No such official ceremony for Babi Yar had been held before in Moscow, and the scenes from the cemetery were shown on the Soviet televison Vremya news show as part of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's effort to allow open discussion about the past.
A longtime complaint by Soviet Jews has been that the Jewish victims of the massacre are not mentioned prominently.
But Sunday they were the first ones listed by Shapiro as victims, and Jewish speakers recalled the horrors of the victims who were shot to death by the Nazis at the edge of a ravine, which became their common grave.
Viktor Pushkarev, another deputy of the Supreme Soviet, also mentioned the Jewish victims at Babi Yar.
The official Tass news agency also said specifically that 33,700 Jews were shot in the two-day massacre.
It also said, 'In the 26 months of the Nazi occupation of Kiev, Babi Yar became the grave for nearly 100,000 Soviet people -- civilians, POWs, guerrilla fighters and underground workers.'