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.
During our trip to Apatity yesterday we’ve noticed a structure, made of concrete, that did not appear to belong to these places – it looked like a buddist stupa. Stopped to closely examine it, and it indeed turned out to be one.
We’ve also dug up some materials on the monument on our return to Kandalaksha, and rummaged through our memories. The story of putting up a buddhist stupa has been going on for at least two years, initiated by two entrepreneurs from Apatity. The project stumbled into the land allocation issue. Apparently there is another similar structure somewhere along the Apatity to Kirovsk road. For a full compilation of articles on the subject, in Russian, see Alexandra’s livejournal.
Yestarday and today, May 31 and June 1, there was the 4th Internationa Festival of Indian Culture in Murmansk, organized by the Center of Vedic Culture (ul. Frolova 16), aka the Hare Krishna people, with the support of the Murmansk region Ministry of Arts and Culture.
I’ve looked at the photos and haven’t notice anything that one could not find in the Kola Peninsula hills. Those seeking the atmosphere of mystery should perhaps try burned out areas. Because our active reader is interested specifically in Vottovaara, I’ve looked up some photos and sharing them here.
There is a Vottovaara site, Russian only, mystery music and all the New Age bells and whistles. “Future energy”, “power points” etc. etc. there also is an article by Mark Shakhnovich (the same archeologist who dug up what was left of the Kandalaksha monastery) about the opening of a shrine in Vottovaara, and also a section on Karel cooking.
I have noticed the presence of Protestant churches in Karelia before and was, if not stuck, then certainly surprised to see them in this monoculture land. Today Alexandra sent me a link to an article about the Catholic church in Petrozavodsk, Karelia’s capital. The story is in the form of an interview with Father Eugene Heinrichs. Those into the subject may want to read it. Those really interested in the social and political situation may even ask me for an English summary.
Somewhere in Krasnoyarsk Kray, southern Siberia, near Minussinsk. The movement was prominent in the 90s, then subjected to a lot of harsh criticism in early 2000s, but for the last few years largely ingored by mass media.
The Valaam (Valamo) Monastery in the northern part of Lake Ladoga seems to have joined the “foreign tourists are welcomed” trend, made a nice site, suitably edited off any controvertial stuff, in entirely readable English, and announced its willingness to see you infidels within its holly walls in exchange for a fee.
Murmansk, -20C (-4F). The poin is to commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, thus the icehole in the shape of a cross, or marked by a cross. The practice seems to be frowned at by the church but its popularity is on the rise. This year the authorities banned ice bathing in Kandalaksha because, it was said, one foot of ice wasn’t enough to make it safe. In Moscow on the other hand they cut holes all over and even installed a huge barrel in the middle of the Red Square.