Exile to Karaganda in 1950–1953: The case of Alexander Esenin-Vol'pin

Exile to Karaganda in 1950–1953: The case of Alexander Esenin-Vol'pin

Andrei A. Gross
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The article explores the subject of exile to Karaganda during the late Stalinist period of the USSR history using the example of the dissident Alexander Esenin-Vol'pin. It considers the general subject of exile in the Asian part of the USSR of people convicted previously under article 58 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR and then recognized as “socially dangerous elements.” Even considering the broad scope of the study of many forms of forced migration in the USSR, this question still remains poorly researched. This is due to the individual character of such repression, carried out by the Special Council of the NKVD-MGB from the 1920s to 1953. The author analyses the exile of Alexander Esenin-Vol'pin to Karaganda in 1950–53, which he regards as a form of punishment by the state. The article provides a description of the everyday life of an exile in a remote region of the USSR with its socio-cultural and economic peculiarities. The author proceeds from the theoretical foundations of relational sociology and answers the questions that were posed to historiography by the “spatial turn.” The problems raised in the article include interregional relations in the late period of Stalinism, social ties of intellectuals exiled to Karaganda, and socio-economic heterogeneity of the USSR regions. The article is based on numerous letters and telegrams of the Soviet dissident Alexander Esenin-Vol'pin and his relatives deposited in the archives of the International Memorial⁎ in Moscow, which are introduced into scientific circulation for the first time. The author draws conclusions about relatively favorable economic conditions in Karaganda if compared to other regions of the USSR, broad opportunities to overcome geographical limitations of exile, abundance of social connections of exiled Moscow intellectuals in Karaganda, and paradoxical conditions of exile, which allowed Esenin-Vol'pin to express the thoughts that would be regarded as “counter-revolutionary propaganda” in Moscow.
Andrei A. Gross
Assistant Lecturer of the Department of Russian History of 20th–21st centuries, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia
Postgraduate student Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, Oxford University, Oxford, Great Britain
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dissidence, dissent, exile, exile to Karaganda, Stalinism, Soviet repression, Soviet dissidents, social ties
For citation:
Gross, A.A. “Exile to Karaganda in 1950–1953: The case of Alexander Esenin-Vol'pin.” Historia Provinciae – the Journal of Regional History, vol. 6, no. 4 (2022): 1323–65,

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