Natalia Golysheva, a BBC correspondent whose grandfather was a Gulag prisoner, visited Solovki in June 2018. She joined pilgrims on their journey to the far-off skits, heard from local residents and spoke to the granddaughter of perhaps the most famous Gulag survivor Dmitry Likhachov asking her what Solovki represents in modern day Russia.
Among other things, Natalia explores the conflict between, on the one hand, the monastery, which is said to try to erase the traces of the prison history of the place, and, on the other, historians and human rights activists, who want Solovki preserved as a Gulag memorial.
Rumours have reached me that the Union of Independent Guides to Solovki invites artists, photographers, and bloggers to stay there for free in exchange for their paintings, photographs, or mentionings in blogs. Details here.
Moscow ornithologist Pavel Kvartalnov has recently made, on our request that was, in turn, prompted by an enquiry by the person who contributes to the Yorkshire Regiment WW1 Remembrance site, a full set of the Arkhangelsk British Cemetery graves. They can be found at [removed on author’s requestб probably available if you ask for it].
The other day I’ve noticed a poster by Orenburzhye Airlines at the local supermarket announcing direct daily Murmansk to Arkhangelsk flights. The cost of the ticket is ~8000 roubles (about $130) one way according to their site. Before this offer became available one would either have to fly via Moscow (that would take pretty much the whole day) or spend one and a half or two days on the train.
If I correctly read this report from www.news29.ru, the brass figure has already been cast, and the procedure of finding “a place of honour” in the center of Arkhangelsk to install it is well under way, with popular support..
A group of courageous/foolhardy Czech travellers sent me a question on the possibility (mostly from the legal rather than technical point of view) of going from Kem’ to Solovki, circling the island, and returning to Belomorsk by sea kayak. At the moment I’m investigating the issue by asking people closely associated with this type of trips, but getting contradictory answers. Does anybody have reliable info on the subject of whether the authorities would interfere and make these travellers stop their suicidal trip, and possibly give them some extra trouble eg. fines or arrest?
The campaign to erect a monument to the former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as well as the seemingly growing opposition to the project are well under way in Arkhangelsk.
The cost of the project is said to be about 500 thousand roubles (about $7000 at the currect exchange rate), of which 30 thousand have already been collected. Once the funds are there it should take 2-3 monthes to manufacture the statue.