Why Is Putin Building Correctional Colonies in Ukraine? The Russian government issued an important, though little noticed, decree on January 23 ordering the construction of 27 “correctional colonies” and “correctional centers”—or penitentiaries–in the four Ukrainian territories Russia illegally annexed last year.
Twelve such colonies are to be set up in the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic, seven in the self-styled Luhansk People’s Republic, three in the occupied Kherson province, and two in the occupied Zaporizhzhia province.
The decree also foresees the construction of three “correctional centers,” one in the DNR and two in the LNR.
The “main goal” of the correctional colonies is “the carrying out of a criminal sentence in the form of deprivation of freedom.”
In turn, the main goal of the centers is “the carrying out of a criminal sentence in the form of forced labor.”
The pre-war population of the DNR was about 2.2 million; that of the LNR—about 1.5 million. All of Kherson province had about 1 million, and all of Zaporizhzhia province had about 1.6 million.
Consider that at least half of the DNR/LNR population has fled, been resettled, or killed in 2022, and that many of the residents of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces have either fled, if they lived in the Ukrainian-controlled parts, or were killed or resettled if they lived in the Russian-controlled parts.
So, whereas the total population of these four regions was about 6.3 million, the present population is no greater than half—say, 3 million.
Twenty-seven new correctional facilities—in addition to those that already exist—for such a small population are quite an addition to Russia’s punitive capabilities in the occupied territories. Clearly, the new facilities are not intended to combat crime, if only because many criminals have been convinced to serve as cannon fodder in the Wagner mercenary group.
The intent must be political: to terrorize what remains of the extant populations in these regions, to eradicate all traces of a Ukrainian national identity, and to destroy all conscious Ukrainians. In a word, to bring the GULAG to Ukraine—which is so much easier than bringing Ukraine to the GULAG.
Annihilation therefore awaits all Ukrainians who have the bad luck to remain in Russia’s occupied territories.
Western analysts and policymakers who believe that territorial concessions to Russia must be part of any peace deal should think twice.
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For any such solution is the equivalent of aiding and abetting the Russian genocide of Ukrainians.
Author Biography: A 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, Dr. Alexander Motyl is a professor of political science at Rutgers-Newark. A specialist on Ukraine, Russia, and the USSR, and on nationalism, revolutions, empires, and theory, he is the author of 10 books of nonfiction, including Pidsumky imperii (2009); Puti imperii (2004); Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires (2001); Revolutions, Nations, Empires: Conceptual Limits and Theoretical Possibilities (1999); Dilemmas of Independence: Ukraine after Totalitarianism (1993); and The Turn to the Right: The Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919–1929 (1980); the editor of 15 volumes, including The Encyclopedia of Nationalism (2000) and The Holodomor Reader (2012); and a contributor of dozens of articles to academic and policy journals, newspaper op-ed pages, and magazines. He also has a weekly blog, “Ukraine’s Orange Blues.”
Sofronie the Monk
January 26, 2023 at 8:32 pm
Because that’s what Russians do. That’s their power projection style. Anyone can check what they did to Eastern European countries after WW2 or even before that, at Katyn.
Eliminate any kind of elite (political, military and especially cultural).
Indoctrinate the remaining on their imaginary Slavic (aka Russian) heritage, rewrite their history by praising historical links to Russia (and even imagining them when required), demonize any links to Western Europe, rename places, change the language, anything to emphasize their belonging to Russia.
Massive population deportations and, inside of what Russia considers its own borders, population replacement with Russians.
Heavy propaganda, accent on Orthodoxy, severe punishments not only for disobedience, but for non-participation as well. Neutrality = Fascism.
Expected result: a pliant population who readily embraces the fact that they are Russians who were misguided by Western plutocrats, are extremely grateful to their Red Army liberators and who will be loyal to the Motherland.
Actual result: a simmering population who will burn the chair a Russian has used and salt the earth he has stepped upon.
January 29, 2023 at 3:11 am
Ottomans had Janisaries, Tsars were using captive Poles and Ukrainians to conquer Siberia and Stalin was using the recruits from these Ribbentrop-Molotov “bloodland” countries as cannon fodder against Germans in WWII.
Putin is using captive Chechens to fight in Ukraine and it seems that he is hellbent on using conscripts from conquered parts of Ukraine to move further West.