Staunton, August 26 – There are so many monstrous and egregious evils in Vladimir Putin’s Russia that it is all to easy to overlook the banal ones, smaller evils that nonetheless harm defenseless people and reflect the nature of a regime that has created the largest wealth differentiation in the world.
Olga Romanova of Novaya gazeta reports on one of these “banalities” – the decision of the Russian prison system not to give pregnant women, nursing mothers and young people in places of preliminary confinement the additional cottage cheese, butter and vegetables they need (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/08/25/77600-lyuboy-myakish-krome-golodovki).
Since April of this year, the Moscow journalist says, the Russian prison system has been denying these things not only to people accused but not convicted of a crime but also to their children whose only “crime” is that their mothers have been accused. This “innovation” was not announced but discovered recently by prison monitoring groups.
When challenged, the Moscow prison administration said that such additional foodstuffs had been cut off, on orders from higher ups. Pregnant women, mothers, and young children can survive without such foods, but they can only survive not thrive now that the prison system has cut back from the earlier miserly supplements it had been provided.
“Of course,” Romanova says, “this was done out of the best intentions. The ration was reduced so that it could be raised, sometimes, perhaps,” to be celebrated by the pro-government media and accepted by some as an indication of the humanism of the Putin regime, yet again a revival of an old, old Soviet tactic.
This is not a small problem, the journalist continues. Last year, there were 715 pregnant women in the prisons system, 282 of whom gave birth. The year before, 457 children were born behind bars, and now, there are “about 600 children” in detention centers. All of them are suffering as a result of the new order whatever officials say.
Indeed, the situation appears on course to become even worse, Romanova continues. The Federal Penal System says that the amount of money allocated for the daily ration for prisoners will decline by 25 percent by next year to 64 rubles (about 85 US cents).
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