Why does the geography of Stalin’s Terror matter, and how do we study it?


In a new blog post, geographer Dr. Sofia Gavrilova explains the importance of studying the geography of Stalin’s Terror, and presents her innovative approach to the topic. Sofia Gavrilova has been collaborating with GULAGECHOES PI Judith Pallot for the past decade, mapping the GULAG and developing the on the gulagmaps.org website. Now her expertise in Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping is advancing the GULAGECHOES project. This blog post shows how she has mapped the ethnic deportations that began in the 1920s and culminated in the war-time deportations.

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Bamlag’s lingering shadow


At the beginning of March 2021, Mikhail Mishustin, Russian Prime Minister, declared that the government intends to invest 780 billion rubles into the development of transport infrastructure, including the audacious modernization of the Baikal-Amur Railway, popularly known by its acronym BAM (Baikalo-Amurskaia Magistral’). In a new blog post, Dr. Mikhail Nakonechnyi analyses the implications of this news from a historical perspective.

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Presentation of Estonia research at the Coffee & Sociology seminar, University of Helsinki

On 9 February 2020, Dr Olga Zeveleva presented her ongoing research on the Estonian prison system at the Coffee & Sociology seminar, hosted by the Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki. In this first presentation of this part of the Gulag Echoes project, she discussed her preliminary reflections on ethnicity, language, citizenship, and class in the Estonian prison system. You can read more about research conducted in Estonia by project PI Judith Pallot and postdoctoral researcher Olga Zeveleva here.

Thirty Days in ‘Kremlin Central’: The Detention of Alexei Navalny


The press has reported on the arrest of opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, after his arrival back in the Russian Federation. He was immediately taken into custody, where an impromptu court chose to detain him on remand for a period of thirty days.  We now know that he is being held in FKU SIZO-1 FSIN, one of seven Russian prisons directly subordinated to the central prison administration or FSIN (Federal’naya Slyuzhba Ispolneniya Nakazanii).  In this new blog post, GULAGECHOES PI Judith Pallot describes this unusual remand prison, what we know about the conditions in which Alexei Navalny will be held, and whether they constitute a threat to his human rights.

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Lessons of the Recent Past: From Tuberculosis to COVID-19 in Russia’s Prisons


In a new article in Riddle, an online journal on Russian affairs, project PI Judith Pallot compares how the current pandemic is unfolding in Russian prisons to past epidemics in recent Russian history. The publication is available in Russian and in English. It is also partly reproduced on the project blog.

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Fieldwork trip to Estonia

At the end of July, Project Director Judith Pallot and Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Olga Zeveleva launched fieldwork in Estonia. They spent time in Tallinn and in Jõhvi (Ida-Viru County in north-eastern Estonia), conducting pilot interviews with people who have been to Estonian and Soviet prisons between the 1960s and today, as well as focus groups and interviews with people who work on prisoner adaptation after release. The fieldwork was based predominantly at the New Generation rehabilitation centre in Jõhvi, thanks to Vadim Jerjomenko and Yury Mysnik, who run the center. Judith and Olga also visited the Patarei Prison in Tallinn, which was closed in 2002, and went to see Viru Vangla in Ida-Viru County, where fieldwork will hopefully continue in the future among current prisoners. This work would not have been possible without the help of Avo Üprus.

The fieldwork conducted during this trip has laid the foundations for further research in Estonia, which will focus mainly on interviews with former prisoners and prisoners, with special attention to linguistic and ethnic dimensions of prisoners’ experiences in the Soviet prison system, in the prison system of Estonia before the major recent prison reform, and in the newly reformed Estonian prison system. Work in Estonia will continue in autumn 2020.