Papers reveal that ministers ordered erasure of prisoner files in 2014, say archivists

A museum studying Soviet prison camps has discovered a secret Russian order from 2014 instructing officials to destroy data on prisoners – a move it said “could have catastrophic consequences for studying the history of the camps”.

Up to 17 million people were sent to the Gulag, the notorious Soviet prison camp system, in the 1930s and 1940s. At least 5 million of them were convicted on false testimony. The prison population in the labour camps peaked at 2 million people.

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