NIZHNY ODES, Russia — Long lines of people waiting to buy milk, toilet paper and other essentials disappeared from Russia decades ago. But one line has only grown longer — the one Yevgeniya B. Shasheva has been waiting in.
俄罗斯下奥德斯——在俄罗斯，为了购买牛奶、厕纸和其他必需品而排的长队已经消失了几十年。但是有一个队伍却只增不减——而叶夫根尼娅·B·沙舍娃(Yevgeniya B. Shasheva)一直在排着。
For 70 years.
That is the time that has passed since her birth in a remote Russian region. Her family was sent into exile there from Moscow during the height of Stalin’s Great Purge in the 1930s, when millions were executed or died in prison camps.
Throughout the past seven decades, Ms. Shasheva says, she has been waiting to move home to the Russian capital.
A 2019 ruling by Russia’s Constitutional Court ordered that the government make this happen, mandating that such “children of the gulag” — around 1,500 of them, according to some estimates — be given the financial means to move to the cities from which Stalin banished their parents.
Parliament was supposed to discuss the matter last month, but the question was removed from its agenda. Now, the process has stalled completely, leaving Ms. Shasheva with nearly 55,000 people ahead of her in line for social housing in Moscow.
So she waits 800 miles away in Nizhny Odes, a town so far off the beaten track that wild bears appear regularly on the streets.
“In Russia, people still live in Soviet exile,” said Grigory V. Vaypan, a Harvard-educated lawyer who has taken up Ms. Shasheva’s case in Russian courts. “Many people have been living in it for 70 to 80 years since they were born.”
哈佛受训的律师格里高利·V·韦潘(Grigory V. Vaypan)说：“在俄罗斯，人们仍然生活在苏维埃流亡中。”他已接手了沙舍娃在俄罗斯法院的案件。“自出生以来，许多人已经在流亡中生活了70至80年。”
The Russian state recognizes that terrible crimes were committed under Stalin, but dealing with them has become increasingly difficult as the Kremlin seeks to focus attention on Russia’s past glories rather than its pain.
In 1991, under Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, the government granted repression victims the right to return home. It also ordered the state to provide them and their children with housing in their place of origin. But after the Soviet Union’s collapse that year, the country was in chaos, the government had little money and the law was largely ignored.
Even as the country’s fortunes were reversed a decade later, with oil prices surging after Vladimir V. Putin became president, there was little interest in focusing on problems thrown up by Stalin’s brutal rule. So instead of helping the victims return home as required by law, Moscow shifted that responsibility to regional governments.
尽管十年后俄罗斯的形势开始好转，弗拉基米尔·V·普京(Vladimir V. Putin)出任总统后油价飙升，人们对关注斯大林残酷统治所引发的问题也没有兴趣。因此，莫斯科没有按照法律要求帮助受害者返回家园，而是将这一责任转移给了地区政府。
That resulted in a series of Kafkaesque requirements: To qualify for social housing in Moscow, victims must live in the city for 10 years first, be paid less than the minimum wage and not own real estate. As a result, the process of providing people with apartments mostly ground to a halt.
For Ms. Shasheva’s family, their background gave them slim odds of surviving Stalin’s political terror. Her father, Boris N. Cheboksarov, a member of a wealthy merchant family who was born in Switzerland, had the type of status that made it only a matter of time before he would be targeted by the secret police.
对于沙舍娃的家人而言，他们的出身使他们很难幸免于斯大林的政治恐怖。她的父亲鲍里斯·N·切博克萨罗夫(Boris N. Cheboksarov)属于在瑞士出生的一个富裕商人家庭，对于这样的身份，被秘密警察盯上只是时间问题。
The family’s forced exile began in 1937, when Mr. Cheboksarov was arrested at their apartment in central Moscow, where he worked in the Soviet food industry. Accused of being a Japanese spy, he was sent to work in a mine in the northern region of Komi.
His father, who had attended university in Lausanne, was also arrested and was shot, likewise accused of being a spy for Japan.
Stalin had not yet put prisoners to work building a railway to the Far North, so Mr. Cheboksarov had to walk to his labor camp for hundreds of miles through the taiga forest.
In the mine itself, he and other prisoners worked “like slaves,” said Anatoly M. Abramov, 81, who lived near the camp as a child and is one of its few surviving witnesses.
81岁的阿纳托利·阿布拉莫夫(Anatoly M. Abramov)说，在矿山里，他和其他囚犯一样“像奴隶一样工作”。他小时候住在营地附近，是尚存的少数见证人之一。
Despite being released from the camp in 1945, Mr. Cheboksarov was forced to stay as an engineer, living outside its fences. There, he met Ms. Shasheva’s mother, Galina. Even though she had been taken to Nazi labor camps during World War II, the Russians accused her of collaborating with Germany and sent her into exile.
From Ms. Shasheva’s childhood near the Stalinist camp, she mostly remembers the cold. Once, she rode with her father in a truck to a nearby town. The vehicle broke down, and they removed its wooden parts to light a fire while they waited to be rescued.
“Otherwise, we would have frozen to death in less than an hour,” said Ms. Shasheva, who speaks with her father’s Muscovite accent despite never having lived in the Russian capital herself. The dire climate, with its dark winters and short, mosquito-doped summers, also affected her health: As a child, she contracted tuberculosis amid poor local health care.
Such memories have been pushed aside under Mr. Putin’s tenure.
Since his early days in the Kremlin, he has stressed the need to honor Soviet achievements — notably its role in the defeat of Nazi Germany — and play down any parallels between Stalin’s terror and Hitler’s horrors. To ensure that the preferred version of history prevailed, the Kremlin has squeezed historians, researchers and rights groups that focus on gulag research and memory.
Groups lobbying to help people like Ms. Shasheva also came under growing pressure. Memorial, the pre-eminent civil society group in the field, was declared a foreign agent in 2012. Yuri Dmitriev, a historian who discovered Stalin’s mass burial site in northwestern Russia, was sentenced to 13 years in prison on charges that many regard as baseless.
Ms. Shasheva’s quest to return to Moscow was hindered by such efforts, too.
“The Russian government wants to control this topic,” said Nikolay Epplee, an independent researcher who has written a book about how governments deal with history’s sinister periods. “Whoever does that independently is being pushed out.”
In November, the lower house of the Russian Parliament debated solutions for people like Ms. Shasheva, but that led to complaints from some lawmakers that Stalin’s victims and their descendants born into exile were asking to skip the line for social housing.
The government eventually settled on a proposal that puts the families of repression victims in a 20-year-long line.
Mr. Shasheva’s lawyer, Mr. Vaypan, is leading the effort to amend the draft legislation. His campaign to help children of the gulag has attracted tens of thousands of supporters, including many civil society organizations.
Walking through the site of the former camp where her father was sent to work, Ms. Shasheva said that she had no choice but to keep fighting to get out of Nizhny Odes and to the place she considers her real home, Moscow.
Despite living 800 miles away, Ms. Shasheva already considers herself a Muscovite. When she dreams about the city, she imagines herself getting lost in the whirlwind of busy streets.
“What I like in Moscow is how you can just walk in a crowd of people when it is dark and see what is going on,” she said. “I just want to feel the everyday life. We don’t have it here.”
Yet even if she manages to secure a place to live in Moscow, other worries linger.
“I am still afraid that repressions can come back,” Ms. Shasheva said. “I realized that deep down, all of us victims of repressions have this fear entrenched inside.”