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Nearly a gulag

the Stalinist fate of the Pussy Riot

Cold and snowy Mordovia

Cold and snowy Mordovia

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22 and a 4-year old daughter, could end up in a penal colony in Mordovia. Maybe in the same labour camp where Olga Ivinskaya, Boris Pasternak's "Lara", was sent by the KGB decades ago. Newspapers call it an "ex gulag". The Atlantic, for instance, based on a feature originally published by Radio Free Europe says that detainees nowadays work 8 hours a day, in "non physical" jobs, and even earn a small salary with which they can buy cigarettes and other commodities. 

Nonetheless she will be sent kilometres away from home and her daughter. The news f the displacement is not official yet. It has only been delivered to her relatives. In these "penal colonies" her fate might not be the one of poet Yuri Galanskov, who died in 1972 because camp guards had his ulcer operated by a fellow inmate who was no doctor. Yet these colonies are extremely overcrowded, up to 40 detainees pro cell. There is steady water shortage. Abuse, including rape, from guards and other inmates appear to happen quite often. Some weeks ago the Pussy Riot's lawyer had warned: "My clients are risking their lives". 

The prisoner's outcry: "They have tortured me for two days!"

Maria Alekhina, 24 and a 5-year old son, might have ended up even in the Perm region, where Soviet citizens until 1987 experienced the nightmare of lager Perm-36. "The chants and dance to denounce the links of religious authorities with Vladimir Putin are costing the punk protest band a high price", writes Fabrizio Dragosei in the Italian paper the Corriere della Sera

Sending the women to the "ex gulags" of Russia happens in a time of serious sharpening of Putin's crackdown. Dissident Sergej Udaltsov is being persecuted because a video whose authenticity is questioned, shot by the secret services under the direct control of the President, appears to show him as accepting payment from a Georgian "in order to incite unrest". One of his coworkers, before being taken to jail from the courtroom, would have screamed to journalists: "I have been tortured for two days!" Putin said that he aims at reintroducing "patriotic education" programs. And there is even the ridiculous attempt to try popstar Madonna for alleged "propaganda of homosexuality".   

24 October 2012

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the Soviet labour camps

GULag is the acronym, introduced in 1930, of Gosudarstvennyj Upravlenje Lagerej (General Direction of the lagers).
In 1918, with the beginning of civil war, the Soviet system created a broad network of concentration camps for the political opponents of the newly created Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (the USSR). In 1919 the Soviets created the forced labour division. Forced labour was designed to socially redeem the detainees according to the very Soviet constitution. Besides the economic and punishment function, some lagers also worked in order to murder the deportees.

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Yuri Galanskov

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