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.
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
According to official figures, during the construction of Belomor, the White Sea Canal, 2.24% of the prisoners in the BelBaltlag camp complex died in 1931 (1,438 persons), 2.03% died in 1932 (2,010 persons) and in 1933, due to famine in the USSR and the rapidly approaching deadline to finish the project, 10.56% of the prison workforce died (8,870 persons).
Building the canal (photo, Wikipedia)
Seventy years later, in August 2003, Yury DMITRIEV discovered a large burial ground of BelBaltlag prisoners near the 8th lock on the White Sea Canal. The following year volunteers under his direction cleared the area and found more than 800 graves.
Solovki, the Special Purpose Solovetsky Camp, was the first permanent concentration camp of the Soviet regime. (Its Russian acronym SLON spelled “Elephant”.)
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
At first a prisoner on Solovki, Naftaly Frenkel became a leading cadre in the security services during the First Five-Year Plan.
The mass shooting on Solovki in 1929 described by Dmitry Likhachov (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 Terror 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.