Putin’s Polar Wolf Prison (Where Navalny Died)

What is the weather like there?

Grant Piper

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(Wikipedia)

The name Polar Wolf is ominous, and it describes a prison that no one wants to be assigned to. Polar Wolf lies in a remote area of the Polar Urals in far northern Russia in western Siberia. The prison is located in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The entire region is only home to 500,000 people (1/26th that of Moscow.) This prison is where prominent Putin critic Alexei Navalny was sent in 2023 and where he died in Feburary 2024.

Here is some basic information about this terrifying prison including why it is so dangerous and so feared. The prison is subjected to some of the coldest weather of any prison in the world.

A Gulag Past

Polar Wolf location (Google Maps)

Polar Wolf was built as a Soviet gulag in the 1960s. The original name of the penal colony was YATs-34/3. Prisoner labor turned an old campsite into a full fledged colony over many waves of construction. In 1967, the first group of prisoners was assigned to YATs-34/3 where they were assigned to nearby quarries to mine sand for railway beds.

The first permanent building was erected in 1964. Before that, the penal colony worked out of the bones of the 501st Gulag construction camp. In subsequent decades, the colony was improved and built up until it became a miniature city within a city.

Polar Wolf is located in the city of Kharp in the Polar Urals. The city of Kharp itself was built by gulag labor and serves as a lifeline to the nearby penal colonies. This region is incredibly remote, and the nearest city to Kharp and Polar Wolf is Salekhard, with a population of 48,000. Salekhard is thirty miles from the penal colonies.

The only reason there is any glimpse of civilization in this arctic wasteland is because of the gulags that were erected here under Stalinist policies during the Cold War.

Polar Prison

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Grant Piper

Professional writer. Amateur historian. Husband, father, Christian.