Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Kara (from Tatar, also Turkish, meaning "black"), the name of a number of places in Asia among them, of the famous Russian convict settlement, beside a small river, and extending 20 miles along a desolate valley, of the same name, some 300 miles from Chita, the capital of Trans-Baikalia. The mines yield 400 lbs. of gold yearly to the Tsar's private purse. State offenders were sent here largely after the revolutionary activities of 1879. Two of the seven prisons are for "politicals" - men and women. Mr. Kennan (see his Siberia and the Exile System) in 1885-86 found some of the prisons in a horrible state of filth. Scurvy, typhus, etc., had a permanent hold ; and here, far from the eye of the outer world, the most varied and elaborate brutalities were freely practised, noble and cultured men and women being driven to face the dread alternatives of disease, insanity, and suicide. Particularly tragic is the story of Madame Kavalefskaya, sister of a well-known political economist and wife of a professor of Kiev, and of Madame Hope Sigida, a lady twenty-five years old, wife of a civil officer. Madame Kavalefskaya, separated from her husband and little child and exiled in 1879, became insane, was removed twice and brought a third time to the mines, took part with other women in the sixteen days' hunger strike after the violent treatment of Madame Kavalskaya, and in November, 1889, after the flogging to death of Madame Sigida, committed suicide, as did two other women and two men, by taking poison. About twenty others who took poison recovered. The few privileges of the "politicals" at Kara have since been revoked, and they are treated as common criminals.