On the night of June 27th several hundred prisoners from Lgov’s prison camp # 3 in the Kursk Region cut their arms and abdominals in protest against the arbitrariness of the prison administration. The day before, four prisoners were beaten by prison guards. The prisoners said that cutting themselves was the only way to bring attention to the abusive behaviour of the prison guards. (8-JULY-05)
Representatives of several human rights organizations and the Prosecutor General came to investigate. But human rights activists weren’t let into the prison. In several hours the deputy general prosecutor, Nikolai Savchenko, approved the fact of assault of four prisoners by expert medical examination and said that nearly 360 prisoners cut their arms. The Prosecutor general started a criminal case against several prison guards for exceeding their authority with the use of violence, weapons and special means.
On the 29th of June the prisoners went on a hunger-strike. They demanded the replacement of the current prison administration. They said that the prison guards mocked and humiliated them. If prisoners tried to write complaints, prison guards punished them by beating them. In the first place the prisoners demanded the removal of the prison warden, Yuri Bushin, his deputy, Vladislav Dvoenosov, and senior inspector of regime department Victor Reutov. Prisoners claimed that Mr. Bushin and Mr. Dvoenosov personaly took part in the beatings.
On the 29th of June Valery Borschev (picture), the chairman of the Public Council under the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and the chairman of the board of the Russian Recearch Center for Human Rights, obtained permission to visit Lgov’s prison. In several days he prepared a report for the Federal Service for Execution of Punishment. Immediately after this on the 1st of July a criminal cases were started against Mr. Bushin and Mr. Dvoenosov under criminal code # 286 for exceeding their authority with the use of violence, weapons and special means. On the 4th of July prison warden Yuri Bushin, his deputy, Vladislav Dvoenosov, and senior inspector of regime department Victor Reutov were relieved of their responsibilities.
To stabilize the situation nearly 80 prisoners were brought to other prison camps in the Orel region, Belgorod region and Lipetsk region. Several prisoners, including the four beaten prisoners, were moved to the investigation ward of Kursk. A criminal case was started against several prisoners who, as the investigators of Prosecutor general consider, made the cellmates take part in the actions of protest against the prison administration.
The human rights activists
Valery Borschev, the chairman of the Public Council under Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation said that the events of Lgov’s prison were the result of the fact that the Russian State Duma hadn’t given amnesty to minors, women and convicts for non-violent criminal cases. There were a lot of people who had waited for this amnesty. But on May 2005 only 246 prisoners were freed. A lot of people were disappointed and this fact destabilized the situation.
Russian human rights activists are worried about the incident in the Lgov prison camp. They think that Russian authorities are trying to cover-up the scale of this incident. The chairman of the movement “For Human Rights”, Lev Ponomarev (picture) insists on an independent investigation into the activities of Lgov’s prison. He considers the numbers given by the Prosecutor general were brought down and the number of prisoners who cut their arms was more than 600. Lev Ponomarev thinks that the scale of the event on the 27th of June shows the depth of crisis of Russia’s penal system. He said that his organization would attract the attention of international organizations as Amnesty International, International Helsinki Federation and will ask for help from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe and Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council.
The chairman of Moscow Helsinki Group, Ludmila Alexeeva (picture) said that human rights activists had a right to come to Lgov’s prison to take into account what had happened. The entire human rights community is worried about the situation in Lgov’s prison camp. Valery Borschev was there. But Ludmila Alexeeva said that she would strive to have the representatives of other organizations let into the prison to lead an independent investigation. If the official investigation by law-enforcement agencies is dragged on and the guilty aren’t punished, human rights organizations would ask help from international organizations.