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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gulag Memorial Unveiled

MAGADAN, Far East -- A memorial to millions who died in Stalin's slave labor camps was opened in Magadan on Wednesday.


Hundreds of people braved an icy wind to climb a bleak hill above Magadan to see the monument, wrapped in a chill fog blown in from the Sea of Okhotsk.


The 15-meter monument, sculpted from concrete, steel and bronze by former dissident artist Ernst Neizvestny, is a giant, haunting face called the "Mask of Sorrow."


It is the first monument of its kind in Russia to commemorate late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's many victims.


Mourners laid pine branches at the base of stark relief carvings below the mask which show the names of notorious prison camps like Kanon, Severny and Kimzhal.


"This is the history of our country. We should know it and we should never forget it," said Paulina Myasinkova, a fragile 86-year-old woman clutching a bunch of red carnations and shivering from cold.


She was a student in Moscow in 1937 at the height of Stalin's terror, when she was declared an "enemy of the people." She was banished to Magadan for 18 years.


From 1932 to 1956, millions of political prisoners were shipped to Magadan, the administrative center of Stalin's northeastern corrective labor camps, about 6,000 kilometers east of Moscow.