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Glossary

SPECIAL REGIME (LABOUR CAMP)

19.11.2006

Special regime labour camps were the harshest of the four types of regime for holding holdings in Soviet “corrective labour” camps.  They were established through the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (later also set down in the “Foundations of corrective labour legislation of the USSR” (1969) and the Corrective Labour Codes of the republics. The regime was applied in relation to prisoners who had been declared particularly dangerous repeat offenders (i.e. people convicted several times for the same offence), as well as in cases where a death sentence had been commuted to deprivation of liberty as a partial pardon or under an amnesty. The regime was similar to that of a prison: the prisoners were held in solitary cells, were taken out for walks in yards like in a prison, however here there was a compulsory labour element, with prisoners working in their cells.  Prisoners had a smaller food ration, could send only one letter a month, have one visit a year and had to wear striped uniforms. 

From 1961-198- the special regime zone was in the Mordovian political labour camps (ZhKh-385-1, settlement of Sosnovka in the Zubovo-Polyansk district of the Mordovian Autonomous SSR). From there, on 1 March 1980, 32 prisoners were transferred to the Perm political labour camps, to VS 389/36-1 (“Perm 36”) in the village of Kutchino in the Chusovoi district.  Over the years that this latter unit existed, 57 people were held there, 37 of them Ukrainian, including 17 members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. Three – Oleksa TYKHY, Yury LYTVYN and Valery MARCHENKO - were reduced to a critical condition and died in hospital in 1984, while Vasyl STUS died in the night from 3 to 4 September 1985 in punishment cell [kartser] No. 3.

On the day of Mikhail Gorbachev’s meeting with Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, on 8 December 1987, the last 18 special regime prisoners were transferred to hospital buildings at the station of Vsesvyatskaya, at VS 389/35, and the regime became somewhat milder.

The prisoners were released through a pardon. The last “particularly dangerous repeat offenders” Enn Tarto from Estonia and Mykhailo Alekseev from Ukraine were released on 2 December 1988.

Since 1995 there has been a Museum for the History of Political Repression “Perm 36” on the site of the former special regime camp VS 389/36.

 

 Based on material from „Memorial“, Moscow

 

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