Disinfo: GULAG was a social elevator for many

Summary

Yes, for the elites the GULAG represented an unpleasant contrast with Astoria and Metropol, but for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people it became - as paradoxical as it may sound - a social elevator. The main means of successful socialisation after serving a sentence was just a working profession. It was a real "start in life". It allowed the former criminal elements to join the ranks of law-abiding citizens - let's not forget, by the way, that they were criminals, and by no means political prisoners, who made up the overwhelming majority of the Gulag contingent.

The disadvantages and abuses are well documented and refuted.

Disproof

Biased article in the style of historical revisionism justifying the GULAG repressive system. Gulag camps existed in the USSR until the end of the 1950s. According to various human rights defenders' estimates, from 15 to 18 million prisoners passed through them, at least 1.5 million died in the camps, many from physical exhaustion, at least 800 000 were executed only in 1937-1938 (during the "Great terror").

The Gulag is recognised as a major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union. Large numbers of prisoners were convicted by simplified procedures, such as by NKVD troikas.

Hundreds of thousands of victims were accused of various political crimes (espionage, wrecking, sabotage, anti-Soviet agitation, conspiracies to prepare uprisings and coups); they were quickly executed by shooting, or sent to the Gulag labor camps. Many died at the penal labor camps of starvation, disease, exposure, and overwork. Prisoners were often called "goners," meaning a person who even may be freed from the Gulag, but, however, will soon "go" due to undermined health and exhaustion.

Addressing the false claim that "the disadvantages and abuses are well documented". On May 20, 2021, it became known that 130 new mass graves were found at the NKVD execution site near Moscow. The graves were found using German Luftwaffe's photographs of 1942 stored in the United States, since many of the archives of the NKVD itself are still classified. Independent Russian GULAG researchers are systematically facing pressure from the authorities and are labeled as "foreign agents" in nowadays Russia. In 1989-1991 in Russia laws on rehabilitation of victims of political repression were adopted and are being effective. In 1990 the NGO "Memorial" was founded to document the repression during USSR times and to advocate for human rights. However, many archives are classified and narrative justifying repression are frequent in media, the historical memory and archeological initiatives are tolerated by the local authorities in the best cases.

See more disinformation cases on GULAG and "Yuri Dmitriev did not find any Stalinist mass graves" in particular.

CONTEXT: Russian prisoners can be used more actively and replace labor migrants. This proposal was made by the head of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) Alexander Kalashnikov and supported by the Investigative Committee.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 245
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 23/05/2021
  • Article language(s) Russian
  • Keywords: Human rights, USSR
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Disproof

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Disproof

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Disproof

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