During most of the Soviet era, criminals and other undesirables, including supposedly rehabilitated political prisoners returning from the Gulags, were often banished beyond 101 km (63 miles) from urban centers such as Moscow. It was intended in part to keep undesirable elements away from foreigners, who were usually restricted to areas within 25 km (16 miles) of city centers.
The rights of an inmate to move freely about the country after release from a prison would be restricted for a long period. Instead of regular documents, inmates would receive a temporary substitute, a “wolf ticket” (Russian: волчий билет, volchij bilet), confining them to internal exile without the right to settle closer than 100 km (62 mi) to large urban centres where they would be refused the residency permit, "propiska".
This has resulted in many residential communities establishing themselves 101 km away from city borders. Such cities and towns typically have an unusually large proportion of former inmates in their populations.
In modern Russia, this restriction has been abolished — although propiska still remains —, and the expression is used in a context similar to that of boondocks. The cultural divide though still exists in Russia to some degree. Ukraine has abolished the propiska system as well.
- Jeffrey Tayler (February 1999). "Exiled Beyond Kilometer 101". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
- Yung, Corey Rayburn (2007). "Banishment by a Thousand Laws: Residency Restrictions on Sex Offenders". Washington University Law Review 85 (1). Retrieved August 14, 2012.
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