‘A Russian may be sent to Siberia by sentence of the courts or by an Imperial decree issued through the Police Ministry ; in the latter case he is said to be ‘awaiting the Czar’s pleasure,’ and no publicity is given to his fate. His friends may inquire for him in vain. He has been privately arrested ; he has disappeared ; but whether he be lying in some gaol awaiting trial, or have been spirited away to the quick-silver mines beyond Lake Baikal, there is nothing to show unless some police official, taking pity on the grief of a bereaved wife, tells her to hope in the Czar’s clemency, which is just as though he informed her that she was a widow.’
‘A Siberian exile is accounted civilly dead, his wife may claim a divorce and remarry, but in the few cases where this has been done it has generally been suspected that the wife had the chief hand in her husband’s transportation.’
These photos were taken during a trip to Angarsk and Irkutsk, in autumn 2000, with the writer S I Martin and my daughter.