Russia's Gulag museum: some prisoner data destroyed

A museum studying the history of Soviet prison camps says it has discovered a recent, secret Russian order instructing officials to destroy data on prisoners.

Up to 17 million people were sent to the Gulag, the notorious Soviet prison camp system, in the 1930s and 1940s, and at least 5 million of them were convicted on false testimony.

Case files of the Gulag prisoners were often destroyed but their personal data was kept on registration cards, which are held by police and intelligence officials.

Moscow's Gulag History Museum said on Friday that it has discovered a classified 2014 order, which instructed officials to destroy the registration cards of prisoners who had reached the age of 80 — which now would be almost all of them.

The museum said the order "could have catastrophic consequences for studying the history of the camps."