Moscow State University, Faculty of Soviet Law

Address: 9 Bolshaya Nikitinskaya Street (previously Herzen Street), Moscow

The main building of the Faculty of Soviet Law. Photo:

The main building of the Faculty of Soviet Law. Photo:

Shalamov studied in the Faculty of Soviet Law at Moscow State University for one and a half years. There were only two humanities faculties at MGU at that time: the Faculty of Ethnology, which included the departments of Philology and History, and the Faculty of Soviet law. They were founded in 1925 when the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences was separated into two parts. It had been founded in 1921 as a result of the integration of all humanities faculties.

Application for a scholarship. Photo:

Application for a scholarship. Photo:

Shalamov entered the faculty's legal studies department. His testimonials from former workplaces, the Kuntsevo tannery and Setunskii Hospital, played an important role in his admission. In his essay “Shturm neba” (“Storm of the Sky”), Shalamov wrote: “The sky attacked particularly in colleges, where the best part of society was concentrated.”

Decision on Varlam Shalamov's exclusion from Moscow State University. Photo:

Decision on Varlam Shalamov's exclusion from Moscow State University.

Shalamov was expelled from MGU for the “concealment of social origin” – by the admission that he had hidden the fact that his father was a priest. Instead, Shalamov had written that his father was an “invalid.” It was true because after the death of his oldest son, Tikhon Shalamov went blind. Varlam was exposed by his fellow citizen M. Korobov. The main reason for Shalamov’s expulsion was his participation in opposition activities. These denunciations as well as the whole story of Shalamov’s expulsion clearly illustrate how the denunciation system, which was widespread during the Great Terror, emerged.

Sergey Agishev, Sergey Solovyev