Russia today: Putin’s regime glorifies the idea of a strong leader. Stalin is praised for leading the Soviet Union to victory over Nazi Germany. But during the thirty year rule of Stalin millions of innocent citizens were imprisoned in the forced labour camps of the Gulag, exiled or executed.
Russia has never fully confronted this dark history. The fact that Stalin was the architect of the Gulag is silenced or downplayed, and many Russians believe that the repression was necessary to remain order in the country.
For six months, photographer and journalist Hester den Boer travelled Siberia. She visited former Gulag campsites, interviewed victims of the Stalinist terror, met with historians- some under prosecution themselves – and talked to people who think Russia is in need of a strong leader like Stalin. In her project, she brings these opposing views together.
Suppressed By The Saviour gives a unique and intimate insight into Russia’s past and the current climate of growing repression.
The exhibition also marks the launch of the non-fiction book Onderdrukt door de verlosser. Een zoektocht naar Stains erfenis in het Rusland van nu, published by Atlas Contact, and of a web app with visual stories that loosely follow chapters of the book. The trilingual web app – in Dutch, English and Russian – brings together the journalistic and the visual content of the project while making it accessible to the international and Russian community.