Over two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Stalin’s popularity has ascended in nationwide polls in Russia and many former Soviet countries, reflecting the longing of many to restore the country’s former prestige and the security of a more strictly ordered society. The Gulag (forced labor camps) claimed millions of victims, and the threat of the Gulag pervaded daily Soviet life because it could ensnare almost anyone.

Yet, despite its vast scope, the terror imposed by the Soviet state is again marginalized in today’s Russia, where there is an increasing trend to repress the memory of repression. This trend is reinforced by a selectively edited history that emphasizes the “order” and de-emphasizes the “terror” and is manifested in textbooks that sanitize the Stalinist past, limited archival access, the restoration of Soviet symbols, and de-Stalinization initiatives that remain in the hands of NGO’s.