Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Sets Up Special ‘Prison for Terrorists and Extremists’ near Krasnoyarsk

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 30 – Given that Russian courts are convicting more people on terrorism and extremist charges and concerned that such people will recruit others to their way of thinking in the camps, Moscow is setting up a special “prison for terrorists and extremists” in Yeniseisk in Krasnoyarsk Kray.

            Describing this project on today, Ilya Karpyuk notes that this special prison, which will open later this spring, is being developed at the site of a facility that had been housing those in that region being charged with a variety of crimes and being investigated by the authorities (

                “For Russia,” Karpyuk points out, any “prison is a quite exotic form of punishment.” Instead, the majority of those convicted of crimes are held in one or four classes of camps, ranging from settlements where they are under supervision to strict regime facilities in which those confined are subject to much tighter control.

            Most Russian institutions of “a prison type,” he continues, are the investigation isolators or SIZOs. “People in them live not in barracks but in cells, and conditions are significantly worse than in ordinary camps and even more than in settlement colonies.” Indeed, rights activists say that time served in one of them is equal to 50 percent more than time served elsewhere.

            The SIZOs are “the only institutions of the Federal Penal Service which are situated in the center of major cities and thus are ‘windows’ into the Russian penitentiary system.” They are often housed in buildings constructed “in the 18th, 19th, and more rarely at the beginning of the 20th century.”
            According to Karpyuk, “some of the prisons are so old that they are more suitable for a museum than for holding people.” That may include the special prison in Yeneseisk as well. It is t“younger than [Moscow’s] Butyrka, having been build in1863-1865” and not in the century before that.

                At present, there are only seven prisons in the usual sense in Russia. The Yeniseisk facility will be the eighth for the Russian Federation as a whole and the second for all of Siberia and the Far East.  Penal officials say they hope that isolating the most dangerous extremists and terrorists, they will limit their influence on other convicts.

             The existing prisons fall into two categories, the general and strict regime depending on how tightly controlled the inmates are.  The new prison will certainly be among the strict facilities, but it appears that it may have even more stringent controls than do other prisons in that class.

            Most people convicted of extremism or terrorism will never be confined in the Yeniseisk prison. Only those guilty of especially serious crimes meriting five years or more or recidivists are likely to be sent there.  But this out-of-the-way prison may very well be used for Chechen and Ingush inmates now serving time elsewhere.

            Many of them, other rights activists say, become even more embittered against Moscow as a result of their penal servitude and some of them do everything they can to work against the prison authoriteis, including recruiting others to their cause. Isolating such people could limit their ability to do so (

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