Perm Russia Aug 28 2012, building at the The Museum of the History of Political Repression Perm-36; Shutterstock ID 1430166293; purchase_order: 65050; job: ; client: ; other:

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Perm-36 (officially known as the Memorial complex of political repressions), located some 125km east of Perm, was a labour camp for dissidents from 1946 to 1987. In 1994 it became a museum complex run by the international human rights organisation Memorial, which was founded by the dissident Andrey Sakharov. It's one of the only remaining gulags in Russia and today acts as a museum, with exhibitions about the camp as well as changing displays that don't relate directly to life in the gulag.

It's a haunting site, isolated and set deep in a landscape which in summer is verdant and filled with birdsong. Countless artists, scientists and intellectuals spent years in the cold, damp cells here, many in solitary confinement. They worked at mundane tasks such as assembling fasteners and survived on measly portions of bread and gruel.

It's worth hiring a guide for the day to learn about the regimes and history of the gulag – and to get you there and back. The gulag is located in the outskirts of the village of Kuchino, about 25km from the town of Chusovoy, which itself is 100km from Perm. You can take a bus bound for Chusovoy or Lysva, get off at Tyomnaya (R200, two hours) station, walk back to the main road and backtrack to the Kuchino turn-off (also leading to (Makhnutino), then walk another 2.5km to the village.