Producing, Consuming & Perceiving Prisons in the Former Soviet UnionIn The Gulag's Shadow
Expert interviews conducted in Karaganda (03/06/2019)

The IGS team began work on expert interviews in Nur-Sultan and Karaganda in central Kazakhstan.

Expert interviews continued in the city of Karaganda and its environs, the main location of a Gulag site that was the size of Wales and where prisoners lived and worked in harsh conditions in the Kazakh steppe.

When you have interlocutors like these, research can be fun!

Reflections on long careers in the prison service, civil service and politics.

Alexei takes a dip outside Karaganda

The town of Abay, near Karaganda, it would have been part of Karlag – the sprawling prison camp complex – during the period 1931-1959.

Karabas – it is hard to imagine today but this point on the railroad was the disembarkation point for prisoners transported to Karlag. From here they were divided up and allocated to camp subdivisions across Karaganda Oblast.

Looking back north from Karabas towards Russia from where the trains would arrive.

In the surrounding villages near Karaganda, many of the local residents have links to Gulag – this lady came from Ukraine in the 1950s to work as a nurse in the Karlag camp facilities.

This is Yuri – his relatives were incarcerated in Karlag. He has just finished a successful career as a prison officer in the prisons that still dot the landscape around Karaganda, remnants of the Karlag system.

This is the entrance to one ofthe prisons that still stand near Dolinka, the administrative centre of Karlag 1931-1959.

A prison stands behind these walls, less than a mile away from a Dolinka’s Gulag museum.

The impressive facade of the Dolinka Karlag museum in the former administrative building.

This building housed Karlag directors. Today’s residents of the house are relatives of the last Karlag director.

The yard of the director’s house – prisoners would look after the garden.

A museum exhibit shows the number of prisoners in Karlag peaking in the mid 40s and dropping off after Khrushchev’s secret speech in 1956 and the winding down of the Gulag.

An advert for an art show put together by one of our experts, Nurlan Dulatbekov, dedicated to victims of the Gulag.

Karaganda is not only famous for its coal and camps, astronauts such as Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova stayed here after landing in the steppe upon returning from their trips into space.


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