“In Shenyang, I was the main organizer of the Winter Cities Mayors Association meeting. For the conference in Norilsk in November 2019, I prepared a presentation on the Chinese experience. I am happy to have managed to visit Russia and such a unique place as Norilsk.
After we landed at the Norilsk airport, we went seeing the local attractions. I know the history of the Gulag quite well. A sightseeing tour around Norilsk allowed us to see with our own eyes the iconic places of the city built by prisoners.
From Norilsk everyone went to Dudinka. But I said that viewing Norilsk would be enough for me. The organizers kindly agreed to escort me back to the hotel. The local journalists went with me. On the way we got into a conversation, I confessed that I was very interested in the history of the city and knew about the Norilsk Golgotha memorial complex. It was a pity that we were not taken there, I would really like to see it.
Luckily for me, Natalia and Marina suggested giving me a mini-tour. I saw all the monuments that I knew about before, listened to the historical facts, paid tribute to the memory of the political repression victims at the Last Gate, rang the bell on the belfry and visited the chapel. Knowing Japanese, I read the inscription on the memorial to the Japanese who died in Norillag.
The topic of political repression was not new for me, I had read a lot about it, before preparing for my trip to Norilsk. And the development of the modern city, unique in every term, was also interesting, especially when you realize that you see all the northernmost things around you: the northernmost theater, the water park, the mosque, the indoor pool, the elevated gas pipeline, the railway…
At the beginning of the main city’s street – Leninsky prospekt – there was a monument to Lenin, which I did not notice first. For the Chinese people, this figure is an object of special reverence. We returned there after the Golgotha and took a photo for to remember it”.
Text: Natalia Popova, Photo: personal archive of Yan Tsivey