In the Soviet Union, desk drawers became sarcophagi; entombed
within them were the creative endeavours of the most talented and
perceptive Soviet citizens. Yet it is best not to idealise such
hiding spaces as reserves of dormant illumination; indeed, there
may have been no limit to the depths of darkness possible within
Consider the case of Danzig Baldaev. Born in 1925 in Ulan-Ude, in east-central Russia, Baldaev was the son of an ethnographer who was arrested as an "enemy of the people". He grew up in an orphanage for the children of "enemies" and following his service in the second world war was "forced", as he described it, by the NKVD (a forerunner of the KGB) to work as a warder at Kresty prison in Leningrad, now St Petersburg. His employment in the Soviet penal system took him all over the USSR, but in private, he poured the psychological detritus of his profession into a terrifying work of sadistic pornography, which he dedicated, in 1988, to Alexander Solzhenitsyn.--Roland Elliott Brown "The Observer "