Steve Barnes, Assistant Professor at George Mason University, has set up a invaluable site called Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives. Barnes is an expert in the history of the Gulag. I had the pleasure of hearing paper of his at the “The Relaunch of the Soviet Project, 1945-1964” conference at the University College London in 2006. I especially look forward to his upcoming book on the subject.
Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives provides a comprehensive, nuanced, and sensitive picture of life in what was officially known as the Soviet Union’s Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies. The main exhibit, Days and Lives, gives a documentary run down of the experience of arrest, labor, suffering, dealing with criminal gangs, and how million died and survived imprisonment. It’s truly an amazing and much needed achievement in history and memory.
In addition to the exhibits on Gulag life, Barnes has also organized a series called Episodes in Gulag History. Episodes features conversations with scholars, writers, and others on different aspects of the Gulag system. So far there is only one conversation with University of Toronto History Professor Lynne Viola on her new book The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin’s Special Settlements. I’m sure many more will soon follow. Subscribe to their podcast feed to stay updated.
This site will be a great addition for my upcoming History of Russia class.
Thanks to James at Robert Amsterdam for drawing my attention to it.
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Citizens of the Russian Federation comprise of the third highest number of asylum seekers according to statistics complied by the UN Refugee Agency.
The top country of origin of asylum applicants in 2008 was Iraq (40,500, down 10 percent from 45,100 in 2007), followed by Somalia (21,800), the Russian Federation (20,500), Afghanistan (18,500) and China (17,400). Of the 10 main nationalities claiming asylum last year, some remained stable while others registered significant increases.
Countries of origin recording a significant rise in applications included Afghanistan (up 85 percent), Zimbabwe (up 82 percent), Somalia (up 77 percent), Nigeria (up 71 percent) and Sri Lanka (up 24 percent). All of these countries experienced unrest or conflicts in 2008.
And where are Russian citizens going? Poland, of all places. According to the report, “As in 2007, Poland remained the prime destination for asylum-seekers from the Russian Federation in 2008, with a total of 6,600 new claims.” Poland was followed by France and Austria as the main places citizens from Russia seek asylum.
However, ethnic Russians aren’t the ones bolting from their homeland. The majority of asylum applicants are Chechens and Ingush. The reason why they look to Poland for asylum is because of the country’s proximity to Russia. Poland is the nearest country in the Schengen zone and asylum there potentially opens up migration to other EU countries. Plus, many citizens from the North Caucuses go to Poland because they are more likely to have contacts there. “Many Chechens went to Poland during the [Chechen] war,” says Lidiya Grafova from the Emigrant Organization Forum. “But the reason they go there now glaringly marks the regime of Ramzan Kadyrov. Residents of Dagestan and Ingushetia seek asylum because they are constantly under fire. Moreover, I think that growing xenophobia has forced out persons of Caucausian nationality, living in various regions in the RF, out of Russia.”
Graphic: UNHCRPost Views: 115
Cynthia Hooper gave a fascinating talk titled “Terror from Within: Brotherhood and Betrayal in the NKVD” at UCLA in February. The Center for European and Eurasian Studies has kindly uploaded the podcast. I offer it here for readers’ intellectual enjoyment.Post Views: 142
A definitive narrative is forming in the Russian mainstream press about the Markelov-Baburova murders. This narrative says that it is unlikely that Colonel Yuriy Budanov has any connection to the murder because he has the most to lose. In fact, the quick finger pointing at Budanov is exactly what those crafty killers want us to do! As Aleksandr Kots writes in Komsomolka:
It would be no surprise if the real murderers were actually counting on this reaction. Their aim was probably not so much the man’s death as the uproar that would follow. And there is no doubt that this crime will draw as wide a reaction as the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya — it was staged too “successfully” and professionally. “Russia releases a war criminal who, upon gaining his freedom, starts taking revenge,” they will begin to say in the West. “Here is the true demonic face of the Russian authorities,” fugitive extremists and oligarchs of (exiled businessman Boris) Berezovsky’s caliber will chime in. “We did warn you!” And within Russia there will be a great torrent of accusations from human rights activists of every stripe, driving yet another wedge between the Caucasus and the rest of Russia to the beat of an invisible conductor’s baton.
Isn’t this the same line of reasoning the authorities gave for the Litvinenko and Politkovskaya murders? That the political murders were carried out by some nefarious force with the hopes of damaging Russia good name? Now I’m not saying that Kremlin Inc. (I’ll leave that to the Washington Post to make those insinuations) or that even Budanov is responsible (though I still think he is the logical prime suspect. Still, one must acknowledge that Markelov had a long list of enemies.), but this excuse is getting a bit old. In fact, it is a bit strange that the pro-Russia and Russophobic contingents appear to converge on the idea that there is a greater conspiracy behind every killing.
Another interesting addition to this narrative appears to be an effort to turn Baburova from collateral damage into a bona fide target of the killer. Kots throws out this theory:
As for slain journalist Anastasiya Baburova, she probably came under fire by chance, being next to the lawyer at that fateful moment. Incidentally, theories are already circulating that the hit men might also have been targeting (journalist) Yuliya Latynina, who not so long announced that she had received death threats. It is possible that the perpetrators mistook the young girl for the famous journalist, to whom she bears a certain resemblance…
Do we really need to feed Latynina’s paranoid narcissism? I hope that this nonsense doesn’t gain any traction beyond blurting out theories. Talk about feeding the beast. Just wait until the Western media gets a hold of that one. Especially since tying all of Russia’s political murders into a singular, nicely knotted narrative is already in the air . . .
Stanislav Markelov was buried yesterday at the Ostankinskii cemetery in Moscow. Around 200 people attended the jurists funeral in silence. There were no eulogies or speeches at the request of Markelov’s brother Mikhail. After the funeral Henry Reznik, the president of the Moscow Lawyers’ Guild, said a few words to reporters on behalf of his colleagues. “It’s clear that this is revenge. This crime is not against an individual and not against lawyers. It is against the state. This is an insolent demonstration of murder that occurred two steps from the Kremlin.” Indeed an attack on a Russian lawyer is also a strike against the legal system at large.
Several friends and colleagues gathered to bid farewell to Anastasia Baburova. Her parents arrived in Moscow to claim her body. She will be buried in her native Sevastopol.
Despite these solemn tributes to Markelov and Baburova, the politics of their memory has inflamed emotions, especially among Russia’s anarchist/anti-fascist community. Police detained 30 out of the 300 mostly anti-fascist youths who marched in an unsanctioned protest through the center of Moscow. A few anarchists smashed some shop windows and bashed escalator lamps as they fled into the metro. The outrage is apparent in this marcher’s response to those shocked by the “violence”
Honestly, I could not get my head around why they were so obsessed with those windows and bits of plastic, which at most are worth one thousandth of a commercial bank’s daily profits, when two very good people had been murdered and these people weren’t even strangers to the marchers.
Police halted a more subdued march in St. Petersburg. In Novosibirsk, a group of anarchists were attacked by a group of skinheads armed with “wooden clubs.” Chto Delat has more on antifa protesters confrontations with police.
Finally the murders have brought of another issue: whether journalists (and lawyers for that matter) should carry arms to protect themselves. Alexander Lebedev thinks so. The owner of Novaya gazeta (and now the new owner of the London Evening Standard which he purchased a 75,1 percent stake for £1) called on his reporters to carry guns. “The authorities don’t take seriously their responsibilities for the safety of Novaya Gazeta staff,” said Lebedev. “If the FSB is unable to guarantee the protection and safety of our journalists, we will try to defend them ourselves.” In an interview with Ekho Moskvy, Lebedev expanded on his reasoning.
“You tell me. … We have three options. The first one–to leave and turn off the lights … The second–to stop working. In other words, to stop writing about the special services, corruption, drugs, construction, fascists; to stop investigating the crimes of the powerful structures. Just to stop working! … The third option is to somehow defend ourselves. The state cannot defend us. It just cannot! It has gigantic defense budgets, a huge number of agencies. But, in general, it is busy doing its own business.”
Indeed, Novaya especially has suffered “war-like casulties” over the last few years. Baburova is the fourth Novaya jounralist (the others being Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, and Anna Politkovskaya) to suffer a violent death since 2001. Unsuprisingly, the police shot down this idea saying “the more guns, the more disorder.”
In regard to who might have caused the latest incident of disorder, the trail is dead cold. The police have little evidence to go on. They have no witnesses who saw the killer. Images from security cameras don’t reveal the his face (he was wearing a ski mask anyway) but investigators are still working with the video. The killer didn’t even drop the gun which is characteristic of professional hits. The only hard evidence the police have are the bullets that downed Markelov and Baburova.
Given this, it already looks like these brazen killings are on track to becoming like other Russian political murders: unsolved.Post Views: 197