It seems there is a whole culture involved in explaining prison-work camps in the former Soviet Union. Reading this, one can almost follow their rationalization for them.
The Guardian: October, 29, 2015
Russia’s Gulag camps cast in forgiving light of Putin nationalism
“Many Russians regard the horrors of the forced labour camps as a necessary evil during a difficult period of Soviet history.”
Larisa says she teaches her students one lesson about the Gulag, in which she typically divides the blackboard into two parts. On one side she puts the “military and industrial achievements” of the Stalin period, and on the other, the “unfortunate side-effects”, and lets the students decide for themselves whether the repression was justified.
Galina Ivanova, deputy director of a new Gulag museum that will opens in Moscow on Friday, says how the Gulag is remembered in different cities is largely down to individual museum directors. “You can either put up a big portrait of Stalin and note goldmining achievements, or you can put up death rates and haggard faces. Unfortunately, more often it’s the former.”