A Tug of War Over Gulag History in Russia’s North
SOLOVETSKY ISLANDS, Russia — Yuri Brodsky, who has dedicated his life to exposing the dark secrets of the ancient Solovetsky Monastery, pointed at a small, dirty courtyard window blocked by a crooked red brick wall.
The bricks were a rare leftover from the nearly two decades when the fortresslike monastery served as the Soviet Union’s first gulag, remnants of a horrific period initially detailed by the Nobel laureate and historian Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn.
“All traces of the labor camp are gradually being destroyed and removed,” said Mr. Brodsky, a disheveled figure with short white hair.
Russia has been wrangling over how to commemorate the gulag victims, an emotionally charged process that culminated this month when Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev recognized the millions who suffered under Soviet political repression.