A third of the population …

When YURY DMITRIEV was arrested, he was finishing work on a book that had taken nine years to research. It would contain thousands of names, he explained, in a January 2016 interview:

“I’m now putting together a book that will contain the names of those deported to  ‘build socialism’ in Karelia from almost every other part of the USSR: Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, the Volga Region, the Urals and beyond – there was even one person from the Far East, from Kamchatka. There are more than 64,000 names in my list.

“Why were they sent here?

“It may sound cynical, but we understand why the zeks were here. The regime passed a law for every great Soviet construction project and then arrested people and sent them to those sites as unpaid labour.

Building White Sea Canal

Building the White Sea Canal

“But the special settlers were deported as families and dumped out in the forests here, in freezing temperatures. In some cases, all of them were dead within a couple of months. Why? What were their deaths for?

“I’m already finishing work on the card index, then I must check everything thoroughly once again. Apart from the attempt to recover these names, I set myself a larger task — enabling their children and relatives to get back in touch with their historic homeland. It’s no secret that a third of the people in Karelia today are descended from the “special” settlers [of the 1930s].”

“The dictatorship of fear and lies is returning”,
Petrozavodsk Speaking, 27 January 2016 [R]