The project Director, Judith Pallot, and Dr Olga Zeveleva, one of GULAGECHOES post-doctoral researchers, spent the day in Tallinn in discussion with representatives of the Ministry of Justice and Prison Department of Estonia. The purpose of the meeting was to explore the possibilities of conducting interviews in the country’s three prisons in Tallin, Tartu Varga and Viru. The talks were extremely productive. A lot of useful and new information was conveyed about the prison reforms in Estonia and the mentoring and accommodation services that are being developed by the Ministry of Justice to help prisoner re-entry. The prospects for developing the Estonian case study for the GULAGECHOES project look extremely promising. Dr Anna Markina of the Law Department University of Tartu, set up the meeting and we are looking forward to future collaboration with her and with Mr Stanislav Solodov an analyst at the Ministry of Justice who heads up re-entry services.
Mikhail Nakonechnyi, a postdoctoral researcher, responsible for historical dimension of the GULAGEchoes project, has started his first archival fieldwork in the State Archive of the Russian Federation (Moscow). The archive contains tens of thousands of case files, which could be relevant to the purposes of the project. Concurrently working with materials of the GULAG, the Ministry of Justice and camp Procuracy, he intends to glean unpublished documents, generated by the Stalinist law enforcement agencies. These unique sources allow to get a multi-institutional perspective on the questions of ethnicity and ethnic relations in the Soviet system of judicial incarceration between 1930 and 1953.
Professor Pallot visited Georgia in order to negotiate access for the project to Georgian penitentiaries and for permission to interview prisoners from a variety of culture, ethnic and linguistic groups. She had very productive discussions with deputy Justice Minster, Mr Gocha Lordkipanidze and other members of the Ministry of Justice concerned with international law and Georgia’s membership of the Council of Europe and with Mr Nika Tskhvarashvili, Deputy Director General of the Special Penitentiary Service and with other members of the SPS sub-departments. During the course of three days of intensive discussion Professor Pallot learned about the current reform of the penitentiary system and especially the effort being directed towards the resocialisation-rehabilitation and vocational training of offenders. She was able in her spare time to reacquaint herself with Tbilisi which she last visited in 1991 as a participant of the Anglo-Georgian Geography seminar in 1993.