Russian Prison: Not Much Fun


Written by Robert Foster
15 Thursday 15th August 2013

Given the growing number of Russian political prisoners ending up doing a bit of bird, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, two members of Pussy Riot, and opposition politician Alexey Navalny—it's probably worth seeing how they might be spending their time. 

This cuddly, good natured fellow is the head of the prison. Always there to lend an ear, no doubt.

Prisoners are kept in distinct sectors to prevent them from sharing items and ideas with other groups. For example, prisoners convicted of terrorism charges (mainly from Chechnya) are kept together in one sector.

A young rabbi from Moscow leads a ceremony with Jewish prisoners. Prison authorities tolerate all religions, figuring that a practicing prisoner is less trouble than an idle one.

Just checking everyone's out of bed.

Prisoners return to their sectors after dining.

Guards are allowed to shoot an escaping prisoner after he has crossed the middle wooden fence.

Working in the kitchen.

This little guy killed someone ten inches taller than him! Good effort.

This prisoner, convicted of a double murder, chops wood with a huge axe that they've let him hold for some reason.

This inmate was allowed to keep his mustache after proving that it was a part of his family heritage going back to the 16th century.

This inmate looks after the prison's Russian Orthodox church, which is attended by about 30 inmates.

"Every employee is a teacher and a controller."
A prayer room for Muslims.

This prisoner runs the library.

Workers return to their sector at night.

An inmate bakes bread.

Young rabbis from Moscow speak with prisoners.

The dining hall. Authentic/rustic.

The prison barracks.

A prisoner who has been transferred to another prison gives back his mattress.
Locals near the railway station. There are two trains a day out of Ercevo—one to Arkhangelsk in the morning, and one to Moscow in the evening.
These prison guards are on a 2-hour, 25k trip for a shift change with guards at a colony of about 100 non-dangerous prisoners. It's -31ºF outside, and 10ºF inside the truck.
A prisoner hauls timber.
Another murderer with an axe.
Guards form a perimeter, just in case anyone gets any ideas...

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