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Abstract

This article focuses on the construction site of Svirstroi and the activities of its Finnish immigrant population and their supervisors. Due to illegal border-crossing, the immigrants had to serve their time in Svirstroi and became subordinates of the OGPU through forced labour. The organisation of work and political education of the illegal immigrants was delegated between the OGPU, the Communist Party of Finland, and the Bolsheviks who were all responsible for the immigrants and their fates.

Based on archival sources and letters of the immigrants, this article analyses how perceptions of labour, propaganda work, and freedom changed from the perspective of the immigrants and their supervisors. Moreover, this study highlights the role of the Communist Party of Finland as a mediator between the immigrants and the OGPU. The history of Finnish immigrants and communists sheds light on the role of cultural-political work and minority experiences within the Gulag system.

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In: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
In: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

Abstract

This article examines the housing problem of the Soviet civilians who returned from the evacuation to Moscow during the World War II and immediately after it. The reevacuation began in 1942 after the successful counteroffensive of the Red Army near Moscow. It was a priority for the Soviet government to restore the economy of the capital and return workers to the city. However, thousands of square meters of housing in Moscow rendered uninhabitable during the war for different reasons. Based mainly on the archival sources, especially on court materials, this paper examines the magnitude of the housing problem in Moscow and highlights its legal and social aspects. I argue that the authorities at first protected the apartments of evacuees, but then they began to cancel the rights of people to housing and move new residents into the empty apartments. This situation forced reevacuees to start judicial proceedings, which often ended not in their favor.

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In: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

Abstract

After the liberation of the western republics of the Soviet Union from the German occupation, armed resistance to Soviet rule started, it forced the state to use significant resources to stabilize the situation. In the article, based on the reporting and management documentation of the NKVD bodies and party control documents, an attempt is made to explore the range of tasks, management methods, and methods of using fighter battalions, which were created in Western Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states immediately after the liberation of these territories. Particular emphasis is placed on the institutional and social history of these units, the personnel composition is analyzed, and the dynamics of its change during the study period is traced. Similar features and differences are revealed in the methods of formation and use of battalions operating in different republics. An attempt is being made to understand the motivation of the servicemen joining the ranks of the battalions, and determine what role personal interest played in their recruitment or acts of violence by the rebels. The study of the identified issues will allow not only to analyze a wide range of issues related to the activities of the NKVD fighter battalions at the final stage of the war, but also to supplement the understanding of how the Soviet state managed to win the civil war in the western borderlands.

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In: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
Author: Mariia Koskina

Abstract

In propaganda related to the industrial hero-project of the Krasnoyarsk Dam (built 1956–1972), the Soviet press synthesized a narrative of modern conquest of nature by means of advanced hydrology and hydraulic technology with folklore-like myths that emphasized the often-mysterious greatness of the Yenisei River, the glory of the Soviet state, and the heroic feats of Soviet people. This mythology was a complex mixture of imagery that drew on the Indigenous groups of Central Siberia (the Evenks, Tuvans, and Buryats) that had been displaced and alienated by the Russian state and the historic Russian residents of Siberia. These were the very groups whose worlds and stories had been deemed culturally backward. The mythology also incorporated imperial legends of Siberian conquest and embellished stories of Lenin’s sojourn in pre-revolutionary Siberia. Soviet print literature imaginatively recreated the Yenisei River as Ionessi and Ulug-Khem – “big water” or “big river,” “brother of the ocean,” and a mighty bogatyr (or warrior-hero) cursed to be a river. Such seemingly archaic imagery may seem to contradict the narrative of socialist industrial progress in the Yenisei basin, but this article highlights how such myths were modernized and mobilized in support of late-Soviet mega-engineering projects. It argues that the modernized myths of the Yenisei’s transformation – magical and through time – aimed to show nature in flux. People constantly acted upon it, transformed it, and cooperated with it. Moreover, these myths reflected the popular fascination with the immense, often dangerous and always mysterious, features of the Siberian landscape. Thus, in contrast to Stalinist industrialization, Soviet propagandists of the Cold War era did not always demystify nature; they also built their rhetoric upon folkloric and Indigenous conceptualizations of human-nature interaction and environmental change and created a sense of belonging to the place for the people who voluntarily participated in Siberian development.

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In: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
In: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review