Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 44

Russia’s general prosecutor, Yuri Skuratov, has charged that conditions in Russian prisons are so bad that they "could trigger an explosion." Skuratov says Russia is failing to live up both to its own laws and to the commitments it undertook on joining the Council of Europe a year ago. Over one million people are currently in detention in Russia. Of those, 288,000 are on remand. Skuratov said some people are kept in pre-trial detention for as long as two to three years, which is in violation of Russian law. Because of overcrowding, tuberculosis is an increasing threat in prison, he added. (Interfax, March 3)

Russia’s chief law officer was echoing the conclusions of a report by presidential human rights commissioner Vladimir Kartashin, who said conditions in Russian prisons have changed little since the days of the Gulag. He called for the management of prisons for people convicted of less serious crimes to be devolved to the regional level, and recommended that the federal authorities continue to manage only maximum security prisons and those for people serving life sentences. (NTV, February 25; Nezavisimaya gazeta, February 26; Itar-Tass, February 27) Poor conditions in Russian prisons are also criticized in the latest report by the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, which examines Russia’s record in the twelve months that have elapsed since the country joined the Council of Europe. (Itar-Tass, February 28)

Is Russia’s Long-Awaited Economic Recovery Beginning?