17 JULY 2003

On the last day of his official visit to Russia, Prince Charles paid his respects at one of the Soviet Union's most famous and tragic sites – the Solovki Gulag. Through his International Business Leaders' Forum, the Prince is helping to restore the Solovki Monastery, which was the site of the infamous Bolshevik prison.

During his time in power, Stalin sent thousands of political prisoners to perish in the forced labour camp. These days, however, the building is back in the hands of the Russian Orthodox church, which is dedicating itself to returning the building to its original role as a house of God.

"It seems right that the initiative to revive the archipelago's way of life will acknowledge the tragic and pointless history of the 1920s and 30s," said the Prince. "The restoration of the architectural and natural landscape will also help contribute to healing the scars of that soulless period."

During his visit to Russia, Charles also visited the tombs of his distant relative Tsar Nicholas II in St Petersburgh and went for a stroll around the spectacular Peterhof Palace. And he donned his Naval uniform on Tuesday, for a ceremony to hand over a British training ship to the Russian Navy.

Photo: ©
The Solovki Monastery, which Stalin turned into a Gulag, is being returned to its original role as a house of God by the Russian Orthodox church Photo: © PAClick on photos for gallery
Photo: ©
During his visit to Russia, the Prince was also shown around the Peterhof Palace just outside St PetersburgPhoto: © PA