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.
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?
March is considered by some to be the best time to travel around these places. Enough light, not bitterly cold, yet winter, which defines the character of the region, is still in full bloom. You stand a good chance of seeing aurora borealis too. Alexandra has just stumbled on this photo reportof a bicycle trip to Solovki in March.
Nordavia has just announced its spring and summer 2015 schedule of Arkhangelsk to Solovki flights. Tuesdays and Sundays leaving Arkhangelst at 1:35pm, and back 3:15pm, in the air about one hour, at the cost of 9500-9800 (about $160 at today’s exchange rate). Probably easier than the classic route by boat from Kem.