Gulag museum Perm-36 set for closure

Gulag museum Perm-36 set for closure

4 March 2015
Text Vsevolod Mititello

Perm-36, a museum commemorating the victims of Soviet-era gulags, is closing down following conflict between regional officials and museum staff over the site’s preservation. Perm’s administration cites financial problems for the museum’s closure, but this has been refuted by employees, who are describing the decision as an ideological attack.

“All attempts of negotiations with the Perm administration over the preservation of Perm-36 as a real museum of political repression in Soviet history and as a unique historical monument have turned out to be useless,” the museum staff wrote in a statement on the museum’s website. “With no further possibilities for our statutory goals to be fulfilled and understanding all the hopelessness of further negotiations, Perm-36’s management has decided to stop its activity.”

The museum’s attempts to preserve the state’s funding has been slammed by Perm’s administration, who described it as “naive attempts to yet again force the organs of Perm’s state authority to spend millions of roubles on the activity of the museum”.

Last year, officials inspected Perm-36 following accusations of extremism from the public. Criticism of the museum mounted following the programme Fifth Column which aired on the state-run channel NTV. Smearing the activities of people and organisations deemed “threatening” to Russia, Fifth Column slammed Perm-36 as “anti-Russian” for allegedly vindicating nationalists from Ukraine and Lithuania who were imprisoned in the camp during the Second World War.

Since its establishment nearly 20 years ago, almost all the buildings and constructions of the gulag camp have been restored and reconstructed. The museum was included in the World Monuments Watch list and was nominated as a candidate for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.