In 1954 Soviet prisoners overthrew their guards and, for 40 days, established a gulag republic with a democratically elected provisional government, marriages between male and female prisoners, indigenous religious ceremonies and a general flowering of art and culture.
A Soviet soccer player was so popular that when he was sent to the Siberian gulags during Stalin’s Great Purge in the 1930s, he was treated rather well as the gulag commanders were also his fans, who gave him better quarters and food rations, and was even asked to coach the local teams.
In 1933 Soviet Russia dumped 6200 people on an island in Siberia and left them to their fate. A month later 4000 of them were dead. “People were dying everywhere; they were killing each other…. On the island there was a guard named Kostia Venikov, a young fellow. He was courting a pretty girl who had been sent there. He protected her. One day he had to be away for a while, and he told one of his comrades, “Take care of her,” but with all the people there the comrade couldn’t do much…. People caught the girl, tied her to a poplar tree, cut off her breasts, her muscles, everything they could eat, everything, everything…. They were hungry, they had to eat. When Kostia came back, she was still alive. He tried to save her, but she had lost too much blood.“