Escapes from Special Settlements: Goals, Means, and Sanctions

Keywords: special settlers, escapes from special settlements, decree of 26 November 1948, deportations, Western Siberia, late Stalinism


This paper explores escapes from special settlements by analysing three key escape components: goals, means, and sanctions. Based on this, the author identifies the correlation between the factual circumstances of the escape and the subsequent punishment. As a result, the paper expands on the understanding of policies pursued by the Soviet regime in relation to special settlers. More particularly, it offers a new analysis of the decree of 26 November 1948, according to which escape from such settlements was to be punished with twenty years of penal servitude. Further, the paper explains in detail why special settlers violated the rules established by the regime, providing an answer to the question about whether this behavior was a form of protest or a means to potentially improve their situation in exile. In addition, particular attention is paid to analysing the methods that special settlers used to make their escapes. The paper explores where escapees procured money and false documents, what type of transport they preferred, and who hid them. The information presented is drawn from Soviet documentation, party, and law enforcement agencies of various levels (district – region – centre). These sources make it possible to analyse the positions of various actors on fighting escapes, as well as to characterise the confrontation not only as being one between the centre and the regions, but also as being a confrontation between different power and economic structures. The chronological framework covers the post-war period; the territory examined encompasses three regions of western Siberia, i. e., Kemerovo, Novosibirsk, and Tomsk. The article is divided into three parts, each of which considers a separate type of escape: unauthorised absences, unauthorised relocations, and intentional escapes. These categorisations are determined in accordance with the final goals that the special settlers wanted to achieve.

Author Biography

Olga Filippenko

PhD, Trainee Researcher, Institute of History of Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Assistant, Novosibirsk State University of Economics and Management.

8, Nikolaev Str., 630090, Novosibirsk, Russia.

56, Kamenskaya Str., 630099, Novosibirsk, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0001-9287-196X


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How to Cite
Filippenko, O. (2021). Escapes from Special Settlements: Goals, Means, and Sanctions. Quaestio Rossica, 9(3), 829–844.
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