It is becoming dangerous in Russia to investigate the crimes of Stalinism, writes Halya Coynash. A second Karelian historian, Sergei KOLTYRIN has been arrested and is facing charges almost identical to those now brought against political prisoner, Yury DMITRIEV.
While the possibility cannot be excluded that there are real grounds for these new charges, the chilling similarities between the two cases are of immense concern. So too is the timing, with this second arrest coming soon after Koltyrin publicly rejected attempts to rewrite history about the mass graves of victims of the Terror at Sandarmokh in Karelia.
YURY BRODSKY sees the far northern Solovki Archipelago as a kaleidoscopic microcosm of Russia – its history, culture, nature, and spirit all brought together in one remote and windswept corner of a vast country. “The most varied people come here and they all need Solovki,” says Brodsky. “It can change your world view. I’m trying to say that Solovki is a reflection of our entire world, of our entire history.”
Recently, his latest book about Solovki was reviewed on an Orthodox website. While the reviewer notes the author’s “feeling of love for Solovki”, he charges that it also demonstrates “a dislike, a surprising dislike, of the centuries-long history of the Solovetsky Monastery and Orthodox Russia.” Continue reading
On Monday, 19th February, the Primorsky (Maritime) district court in the Archangelsk Region ruled in favour of OLGA BOCHKARYOVA in her dispute with the director of the Solovki Museum, Archimandrite Porfiry (Vladimir Shutov).
Olga Bochkaryova (right) with her lawyer Marina Agaltsova outside the courthouse
This confirms her right of ownership to the two-room apartment where she and her daughter currently live: Bochkaryova does not own or have any other place to live.
In a commentary on the result, defense attorney Marina Agaltsova noted that the statute of limitation for any challenge to the contract transferring the apartment to Bochkaryova had already expired. A counter-claim advanced by Bochkaryova and her lawyer concerned State registration of the contract documenting the transfer of the property.
That application was greatly helped, commented Agaltsova, by the prosecutor who supported Bochkaryova’s argument. The prosecutor applied to the Register and received confirmation that no approval by the Ministry of Culture was required at the time the contract was concluded in 2011.
Since the late 1980s Bochkaryova has been a research associate at the Solovki Museum. In 2016, however, the Gulag section at the Museum was closed and she lost her job.
The coalition of human-rights activists
19 February 2018
Attempts are being made to turn OLGA BOCHKARYOVA out of the accommodation transferred into her private ownership in 2011 by the Solovki Museum administration.
On 1 January 2016, the Gulag section at the museum was disbanded and its head, Olga Bochkaryova, was dismissed from her post. Тhe present museum director, Vladimir V. Shutov, who is, simultaneously, Father Superior of the Solovetsky Monastery [as Archimandrite Porfiry], has now asked the courts to declare the 2011 agreement null and void. The case is being examined by the Maritime district court of the Arkhangelsk Region. A decision is expected on Monday, 19 February. Bochkaryova is being represented by defence attorney Marina Agaltsova.
Since 1988, Olga Bochkaryova has researched the history of the Solovki special purpose camp and run the museum’s section about the Gulag. She created a permanent exhibition about the camp (and prison) in one of the former camp barracks in Solovetsky town. Over the years she has provided advice and information to relatives of those imprisoned in the camp and helped them track down documents concerning their loved ones.
The coalition of human rights activists
16 February 2018
Yury Dmitriev in his own words
I first met students from the Moscow Film School, it seems, at Sandarmokh. They had come for the Day of Remembrance on 5 August. As it happened, one of the buses I’d laid on was empty and they travelled on it to the graveyard and back. They were greatly impressed and began asking me about local history.
Later they wrote me a letter: “Let us help you in some way.” I took up the offer and we went to Peter the Great’s arms factory. The next year they said: “We’d like to help again.” We worked at the Badger’s Hill graveyard. They wanted to help again, and that’s when we started going to Solovki.
Yury Dmitriev with Moscow Film School students
“From 10 am to 10 pm on Sunday, 29 October, we shall be reading out the names of the victims of political repression here in Moscow,” announces an item on the Restoring the Names page on Facebook. “The Memorial Society has organised this event for ten years, ever since 2007. One after another, people will get up and read from the list. Yet thus far we have barely read half of the names of the 40,000 people executed in and around Moscow during the pre-war period.”
Writer Ludmila Ulitskaya in
the courthouse corridor on 11 October 2017.
This 4-minute clip from the Meduza news website also includes footage of Dmitriev on Solovki, and speaking at at Sandarmokh on 5 August 2014. Continue reading
Solovki, the Special Purpose Solovetsky Camp (or SLON), was the first permanent concentration camp of the Soviet regime.
Set up in 1923 on a group of islands in the White Sea, it began with a mixed population of left-wing political opponents of the Bolsheviks (Anarchists, Socialist Revolutionaries) and criminals. Its purpose and the changing nature of the Soviet regime can be easily seen by comparing lists of its prisoners over three distinct periods.
The inmates of SLON
In the 1920s many of those sent to Solovki were released back into society, but often then arrested and imprisoned (or exiled) a second time.
- Vladimir Artemyev, inventor: imprisoned 1923-1925
- Osip Braz, Russian-Jewish realist painter: imprisoned 1924-1926
- Leonid Feodorov, Bishop and Exarch of the Russian Greek Catholic Church: imprisoned 1923-1929
- Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, Georgian writer: imprisoned mid-1920s
- G.J.Gordon, historian:
- A.K.Gorsky (ru:Горский, Александр Константинович), poet: sent to Solovki (?) in 1929
- Jamo bey Hajinski, State Controller and Minister of Transportation, Postal Service and Telegraph of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic: imprisoned 1925-1928
- Archimandrite Illarion (Troitsky, ru:Иларион (Троицкий)), Professor of the Moscow Theological Academy: imprisoned 1924-1929
The First Five-Year Plan, 1928-1932
Naftaly Frenkel was a prisoner on Solovki who became a leading cadre in the security services during the First Five-Year Plan.
The mass shooting on Solovki in 1929 described by Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachov (it forms a key episode in Marina Goldovskaya’s 1987 film The Solovki Regime (Власть Соловецкая) was a sign of the harshening regime.
- Nikolai Antsiferov, historian: imprisoned 1929-1933
- Academician Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachov, philologist: imprisoned 1928-1931, then worked on White Sea Canal until 1932
- Vladimir V. Tchernavin, ichthyologist: imprisoned 1931, then transferred to Kem
- Vladimir N. Beneshevich, historian, paleographer: imprisoned 1928-1933
- Oleg V. Volkov (ru:Волков, Олег Васильевич), writer: imprisoned 1928-1929, 1931-1936
- Mirjaqip Dulatuli, Kazakh writer: imprisoned 1928-1935 (died on Solovki)
- Klym Polishchuk, Ukrainian journalist, poet and writer sentenced for 10 years in 1929, executed in 1937
The mid- to late 1930s
Many of those on Solovki later in the 1930s fell victim to Stalin‘s Great Purge and were shot, either in autumn 1937 at Sandarmokh or on Solovki in February 1938.
- A.V.Bobrishchev-Pushkin (ru:Бобрищев-Пушкин, Александр Владимирович), lawyer and descendant of Decembrist Pavel Sergeyevich Bobrishchev-Pushkin: imprisoned 1934-1937, shot at Sandarmokh on 27 October 1937, aged 61
- Pavel Alexandrovich Florensky, priest, scientist, encyclopaedist: imprisoned 1934-1937, shot at unknown location
- Nariman bey Narimanbeyov, State Controller of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920): died on Solovki in 1937, aged 48 (shot?)
- Karlo Štajner, a Yugoslavian communist: imprisoned 1937-1939
- M.N.Voronoi (ru:Вороной, Марк Николаевич), Ukrainian poet: imprisoned 1937, shot at Sandarmokh on 3 November 1937, aged 33
Re-classified as a high-security prison in 1936, becoming STON (or “groan”), Solovki was closed in 1939.