Abandoned communities exist all over the world, and the reasons they are empty are quite varied. Some were abandoned because of natural disasters, others because of war, disease, or economic decline. Butugichag, Russia, was home to thousands of people in its time, but no one wants to go back.
The atrocities of the former Soviet Union’s gulags are forever enshrined in world history; Butugichag, a corrective labour camp open for a decade between 1945 and 1955, forced its prisoners to mine dangerous nuclear materials and experimented on them mercilessly. It’s estimated that up to 400,000 people perished in these horrific conditions, mostly through exposure to radiation. The Russian government still refuses to recognise Butugichag on its list of abandoned settlements, shamelessly attempting to avoid investigating the tragedies which occurred in this remote corner of eastern Russia. Today, the sparse, icy camp is barely reachable by road, its abandoned workhouses, mines and experimental facilities hidden away by a nation which wants to forget its brutal past.