Russia celebrates her war heroes from the Great Patriotic War (Second World War) every year – but a group of them were hidden away, their rights abused, and their future bleak.
A number of the disabled veterans, who turned to begging for their survival, were driven from the streets and placed in nursing homes for the disabled and elderly. These institutions were then converted into secure, specialized facilities ensuring that their disabled residents would not be able to escape.
According to the security forces’ accounts, in the second half of 1951, they detained 107,766 beggars, in 1952 the number reached 156,817, and by 1953 the number had risen to 182,342. Among those arrested, 70 percent were disabled from injuries sustained at work or in the war.
One of the institutions were on Valaam Island in Karelia. Reporter Svetlana Tsygankova went looking for the paper trail and the destinies of people sent to the island.
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