November 12, 2003 by AK

Guardian Unlimited: unlimited indeed

They are reviewing book reviews, among them Stefan Wagstyl’s of Anne Applebaum’s Gulag. Just read this:

Many well-known gulag writers survived by working as “prison trusties”; others as informants. Solzhenitsyn did both. The last gulag closed in February 1992.

“Solzhenitsyn did both” beats all. The KGB is dead (in name if not in spirit) but its fabrications are alive and well, as well as the Soviet school of wording. Wagstyl actually says: “Some, again including Solzhenitsyn (as he admitted in The Gulag Archipelago), agreed to inform on other prisoners.” I don’t remember where and how Solzhenitsyn “admitted” it but there is a huge difference between agreeing to inform and being an actual informant. I couldn’t figure out what “trusties” were — “trustees” perhaps? — and I haven’t identified the original Russian word.

“The last gulag closed in February 1992” is a confusing sentence. Gulag was in fact the all-Union directorate of prison camps, not an individual camp. There is now a sort of department of corrections within the Ministry of Justice that oversees prison camps. What the author might have meant is that the last camp for political prisoners was closed in 1992.


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