Prisoners in the Gulag fell broadly into two categories; ordinary criminals and political prisoners. Of the two, the politicals were considered the more dangerous, and received the worst treatment from the camp authorities.
The native peoples who lived in the vicinity of the camp, although they may have sympathised with the prisoners' plight, were often obliged to co-operate with the camp administration for their own survival.
Even the commandants and camp staff were in a situation scarcely better than the prisoners. With impossible work quotas to fulfil, the line between oppressor and oppressed was paper thin. One word from Moscow and the Kalashnikov-wielding thug could become the half-starved zek.
These are the characters that inhabit the world of The Cow.