Russian army parade.

In Rusland voert de ontkenning momenteel de boventoon

LONDEN – Mijn pijnlijkste ervaring in Rusland was een bezoek in 1998 aan Perm-36, het enige werkkamp van Stalin dat bewaard is gebleven. Ik was in Perm, een stad in de Oeral, om deel te nemen aan een seminar van de Moscow School of Political Studies. Het doel van de school, gesticht door de opvallende Lena Nemirovskaya, was het bekend maken van jonge, post-communistische Russen met democratie, zelfbestuur en kapitalisme.

Op een bitter koude dag in maart sloot ik me aan bij een paar vrienden die een bezoek gingen brengen aan het voormalige kamp. Perm-36, dat begin jaren veertig was gebouwd als een “regulier” werkkamp, was in 1972 omgebouwd tot een concentratiekamp voor politieke gevangenen.

De laatste gevangenen waren in 1987 vrijgelaten, drie jaar na het aan de macht komen van Michail Gorbatsjov. Het kamp werd gerestaureerd als Goelag Museum door Memorial, een mensenrechtengroepering die was gesticht door de dissidente natuurkundige Andrej Sacharov, om de Russen te herinneren aan hun totalitaire verleden.

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