In the years after Joseph Stalin’s death, official and unofficial criticism of his dictatorial rule significantly altered the political atmosphere in the Soviet Union. While Stalin’s successor Nikita Khrushchev ushered in a period of official criticism that abruptly came to a halt with his own ouster in 1964, a new era of critical thinking about the Soviet system had begun.
In the 1960s and 1970s, a group of intellectuals emerged with a principled opposition to Soviet repression. This group, often called dissidents, built a small but thriving underground society in which they circulated information on the state of human rights in the Soviet Union. The former Stalinist labor camps in Perm would be turned into prisons to isolate and punish these activists.