Victims of political repression remembered on Solovetsky islands at site of first Soviet labour camp

A commemorative festival entitled Days of the Politically Repressed will be held on the Solovetsky islands from August 6-9, marking the 80th anniversary since the labour camps were opened here. As a Rosbalt correspondent was informed by the press office of the Moscow administration today, the festival is being organised this year by the Solovetsky nature reserve, the Memorial centre of Saint Petersburg, the international Memorial organisation in Moscow and also the Moscow administration.

The first labour camp was opened on the Solovetsky islands in 1923. A whole network of such camps were later set up by the NKVD, which Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn later termed as the GULAG Achipelago. The idea to hold a commemorative festival to remember the victims of political repression arose in 1998 and several former prisoners and their relatives were invited to the event as well as leading human rights' activists, historians and journalists.

More than 100 guests from Russia and Ukraine are expected to attend this year. They will visit the Solovetsky Kremlin and the Church of the Ascension which was used as an intimidating isolation cell during the days of Stalin. Also, a new exhibition will open on August 6 in the Solovetsky Museum containing the names of all the former prisoners who were shot on the islands.

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