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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.