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Heirs Of The Gulag? Russia's Prison System Faces Harsh Scrutiny

Rogue Valley

Putin = War Criminal
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Heirs Of The Gulag? Russia's Prison System Faces Harsh Scrutiny

russian_gulag001.jpg


2/3/19
MOSCOW -- Russian officials announced recently that the head of the IK-14 prison colony and several other officials had been dismissed after a surprise inspection revealed female convicts were being tortured and forced to work under slave-labor conditions. The news came five years after Nadezhda Tolokonikova, a ***** Riot protest artist who served nearly two years at IK-14 for a performance at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral, published an open letter detailing the horrific conditions at the Soviet-built barracks in a remote, "swampy" region southeast of the capital. She wrote that women were forced to work up to 17 hours a day with one day off every eight weeks and were subject to threats and violent abuse. In July, a video emerged showing at least 17 guards at a prison in Yaroslavl abusing and beating prisoner Yevgeny Makarov. "They methodically beat the spread-eagled man on the shins and the bottoms of his feet with rubber truncheons," the independent Novaya Gazeta described the abuse. "The man screams plaintively, howls, begs for mercy. From time to time, they pour water over his head from a bucket." In November, four guards at a prison in Chelyabinsk were convicted of beating inmate Sultan Israilov to death. Officials wrote his death off as a suicide until a mass hunger strike caused a national outcry and prompted an investigation. In January, two officials at IK-7 in Karelia were sentenced to prison terms for torturing prisoners and extorting millions of rubles from convicts and their families.

Makarov, the prisoner who was tortured in the Yaroslavl video, is among the many former prisoners and activists who would disagree. He spent 80 days in punitive solitary confinement after the video went public. The Russian prison service "has created a little slave state of its own," he told journalists when he was released after completing his sentence in October. "The law is not being obeyed there at all." Nikolai Kavkazsky, an opposition Yabloko activist who has served time on political charges, agrees, saying, "Russia's entire penitentiary system is built on violence." "It isn't just torture in the normal sense," he tells RFE/RL. "It is in the day-to-day conditions and in the attitudes of the guard toward the prisoners. The entire system must be reformed." Activist Sergei Mokhatkin, who has served several terms in connection with his political activism and was most recently released on December 14, also says the legacy of the Soviet prison system is clearly evident in Russian prisons today. "There are still posters hanging from Soviet times that say that a prison guard is not just a guard but an educator," Mokhatkin says. "That is garbage, of course. And it really prevents the system from functioning properly. We need to transform it from a system of criminalization to one of socialization. But for now, it is just the opposite: People are not socialized in Russian prisons; instead, their physical and mental health are destroyed."

Vestiges of Soviet gulag violence remain in Russia's penal system.

Related: Russian Activist Sentenced To Five Days In Jail For Publicly Challenging Conditions In Prisons
 

Rexedgar

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There are three places that I would not want to be a prisoner:

1) PRNK
2) Russia
3) PRC
 
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