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
Olga BOCHKARYOVA died in Arkhangelsk on 30 July 2020. She was 63 years old.