The Veil of Secrecy: How did the Soviet government quell epidemics in prisons?


In a new blog post, historian Dr. Mikhail Nakonechnyi discusses the Soviet legacies that still plague Russia’s contemporary penitentiary services. He analyses the secretiveness of penal system officials, and compares how the USSR handled epidemics with how Russia is handling the current COVID-19 pandemic. He shows that current practices of secrecy about epidemiological data resemble not the Stalinist GULAG era, but rather Soviet prisons of the 1920s. Continue reading “The Veil of Secrecy: How did the Soviet government quell epidemics in prisons?”

Workshop 28.06-01.07.2020 for the project GULAGECHOES: Ethnicity in the Russian Prison System

The third workshop for the researchers involved in the GULAGECHOES project took place 29thJune-1st July 2020.  It took place off-site at a venue in Finnish Karelia, which allowed the team to give its concentrated attention to reflect on the progress already made towards the project’s goals and to plan strategically for the year ahead. The meeting took place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis that had brought a halt to fieldwork and data collection in early spring.  The closure of international borders meant that some team members had to join by ZOOM, but the core researchers were able to attend in person.  The first working day was devoted to the critical analysis of a series of key articles and books on ethnicity, race, and nationalism that had been circulated in advance. This gave us the framework for considering the interview and archival materials that the project has collected to date.  The second day was devoted to methodological issues and we were fortunate to be joined by Dr Sofya Gavrilova, who gave a presentation on the ways in which Geographical Information System technologies can be used by the project to visualise our data.  On the final morning we discussed the principal findings of the interviews that have been conducted in Russia, Uzbekistan and Georgia.