For fans of military history. Route options that do not require permits.

Military history fans are usually drawn to the Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas, and to the island of Kil’din. These places saw intense fighting during WW2. Remnants of fortifications, guns, shells and other artifacts are still abundant.

1Visiting these places for foreign travellers, however, involves considerable difficulties. Rybachy, Sredny, and Kil’din are among pre-border territories, and a foreign citizen needs a permit from FSB to get there. The procedure involves writing a detailed application that takes no less than two months to consider and can be turned down without even an explanation. Attempting to visit these places without a permit may result in a fine and loss of visa, if not an accusation of spying, with all the ugly consequences.

At the moment we are looking into alternative routes on the Kola Peninsula that do not require special permits for fans of military history. more >>

The Sandarmokh forest massif near Medvezhyegorsk

sandarmohThe Sandarmokh forest massif near Medvezhyegorsk (12km from Medvezhyegorsk towards Vologda)is the biggest shooting range and burial ground in the Russian North-West. About 10 thousand are buried here: 3500 Karelians, 4500 White to Baltic sea canal workers, and 1000+ political prisoners from Solovki, all shot in 1937-1938, at the height of purges. Now it is a memorial cemetery.

More here >> (English) and here >> (Russian).

Medvezhyegorsk

A series of vivid photos of the bunkers and of Medvezhyegorsk in general >>

Info on cemeteries, which are numerous in the region, is coming up. So is the story of my trip through west Karelia in 2011, which was the closest the old materialist me has ever come to seeing ghosts.

Medvezhyegorsk is spelled “Medweshjegorsk” on German maps. For Karelians and Finns Medvezh’yegorsk is Karhumägi, which probably is its original name.