Horror Google Maps discovery of prison camp deep in Russias Siberian tundra

Russia and China pact to cause 'unstable decade' says Ellwood

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The amateur detectives came across a series of intriguing images geolocated at 69°24’19°N 87°38’57°E. They depicted a series of dilapidated buildings no longer in use, stuck in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by rubble. Their discovery set off a concerted attempt to try and identify the buildings.

The mystery was eventually solved by one person on the r/GoogleMaps Reddit page, who identified the buildings as a former Gulag.

“It is indeed the Norillag labour camp,” they wrote.

“You can even see the mining facility connected to the camp further west.

“Good catch OP [original poster]!”

Gulags became notorious under Josef Stalin, particularly during his purges over the course of the Great Terror from 1936-38.

An estimated 700,000 to 1.2 million people died during this brutal period of Soviet history.

The Norillag, the Norilsk Corrective Labor Camp, first became operational in June 1935 and initially housed 1,200 inmates.

By 1951, that number had swelled to a massive 72,500 people accommodated in 30 separate camp sections.

The prison camp was eventually shut down three years after Stalin’s death, on August 22, 1956.

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the 1980s and introduced his policies of “glasnost” (openness) and “perestroika” (rebuilding), Russian historians attempted to initiate an honest and open discussion about the repressions.

As part of that process, a society called Memorial was founded towards the end of the 80s to document political repressions carried out under the Soviet Union.

The group sought to build a database of all the victims of the Great Terror and the gulag camps.

An offshoot called the Memorial Human Rights Centre was also eventually established and campaigned for the rights of political prisoners still held in Russia.

Both organisations have recently been forced to close down by Vladimir Putin’s regime, as the Russian President continues his unrelenting attack on civil society.

State prosecutors accused the Memorial Human Rights Centre of seeking to justify “terrorism and extremism”, charges that the organisation vehemently denied.

The move by Russia’s leader to close both of these institutions provoked a furious backlash from Russian liberals.


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Grigory Yavlinsky, founder of the Yabloko party, warned that Russia was fast becoming a totalitarian state.

He said it marked “the transition from an authoritarian regime to a totalitarian one.”

The decision, he added, shows that Putin’s government “has proclaimed itself the successor of the Stalinist and Soviet regime.”

Mr Putin has moved to crush political dissent in his country in recent years with an ever-growing relish.

This has included the recent disbanding of Alexey Navalny’s movement and the imprisonment of its leader in the IK-2 Male Correctional Colony east of Moscow.

Mr Navalny is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for alleged parole breaches.

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