World: An Island in the Gulag

A first glance, the pastoral scene pictured below recalls a nostalgic postcard view of old Russia. Perched on the banks of a winding river are a sleepy village, a monastery, an Eastern Orthodox church and a bell tower. Closer inspection, however, discloses some grim hallmarks of the new Russia: armed sentries in a guard tower and a group of prisoners marching off to work. Two unique photos, secretly taken this year and obtained by TIME from a Russian human rights activist, offer a rare glimpse of the thousands of "islands" in the U.S.S.R.'s gulag archipelago.

The pictures show a concentration camp on...

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