Internal exile was the detention of people in specific places by force. A.I. Solzhenitsyn described it as "the settling with one's feet tied together" (The Gulag Archipelago, part 6, chapter 1). This occurred under the surveillance of punitive organizations (GPU, OGPU, NKVD, MVD) with precisely defined punitive measures for "escape" from the places of internal exile. These measures usually included camp confinement but not as a rule within a prison cell or behind barbed wire fences. All this belonged to the punitive practices of the Communist regime since the 1920s.
In accordance with the today's official terminology these words do not describe every kind of internal exile, but only those that were inflicted by a court or an "extrajudicial organ" (Special Board and the like). This was either "limited as to time", i.e. by fixing a certain period of confinement, or “forever", which in particular cases may also be considered as a "limited-as-to-time exile" only that the term was similar to infinity.
In all other cases, internal exile in practice means "special settlement," which entails a number of unpleasant legal consequences. Thus, under the law of the Russian Federation concerning "The Regulation of State Pensions", the time spent in internal exile is included in the years of professional activity, to be more precise, even triple as much. But the time during "special settlement" is not being credited at all.
In fact, there were more than 30 different categories of internal exile in the USSR during the 1930s to 1950s, and each of them had its own instructions with regard to specific methods applied during the exile, the way the exiled was kept under surveillance, etc.
Now it is common practice to describe the "non-judicial" and "non-extrajudicial" internal exile as being administrative. But this expression does not correspond to the historical practice: In the 1920s and 1930s they just called those internal exiles administrative, which became final by an extrajudicial decision. In many cases they used to be officially described as "banishment" although banishment, in the narrow sense of the word, means "minus" (-5, -10, -25), i.e. the prohibition to live in 5, 12, 25 capitals or big cities. Apart from this, these "minusers" were generally sent to places that they did not choose but which were determined by the punitive organs, and on arriving in the place of "banishment" they were subject to a regular registration procedure, i.e. put under military command, just like "common" exiles.
And that sort of internal exile, which is nowadays called "special settlement," was in most cases officially referred to as "labor settlement" during the 1930s and 1940s. The internal exiles were called "labor settlers" or less often, " labor resettlers."
One should not think that all categories of internal exiles were required to register at the special commandant's office. At least two categories were not subject to registration and no "personal files" were opened on them.
As a rule these exiles did not own passports. They took passports away from those who did have them in the commandant's office. But these rules were subject to exceptions, even in case of the exiled farmers in the 1930s. Some Ingermanland Finns did not have their passports taken away. And finally they did not take the passports from those who had been sent into internal exile by the famous Khrushchev decree on parasites from 1961 to 1964. The internal exile was either legalized by an ordinary court decision (for example, the great Brodsky) or probably more often, administratively by decision of the Executive Committee of the District Soviet of People's Deputies. It is important to know that not as many persons of literature and art were part of this punitive campaign (in our region, for example, and just in Bolshoy Uluy, the famous Moscovian poet Bachev served his five years), as were believers that were particularly undesired by the Communist regime: Adventists, adherents of the Pentecostal Church, Jehovah's Witnesses and others.