Thursday, December 20, 2018

Moscow Closing Prisons Not Only to Save Money but to Make It for Putin Cronies

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 18 – Russian officials have trumped the fact that there are now far fewer people in Russian prisons than ever before, allowing them to shutter some of the penal facilities and save the government money.  But more is involved here than just improving efficiency, the Telegram Channel SerpomPo reports.

            It says that the Russian authorities have decided to close two infamous Moscow prisons, the Butyrka and Krasnaya Presnya, not so much to enhance efficiency but rather to hand over the land to Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin who will then be able to dispose of it for profit (; reposted at

            Penal officials say they are taking this step because the prisons are aging and it will be cheaper to replace them away from the city center than to rebuild them. That is true as far as it goes, SerpomP says. But here as in so many cases, when the authorities talk about meeting international norms, something else is typically at work.

            And it usually involves taking something valuable from the government and handing it over to the friends of the powers that be for their profit.  That is the case here. The land on which these prisons sits will be developed by these friends, and they will make enormous profits as a result. 

            Consequently, the authorities do not deserve credit for trying to improve the lives of prisoners; they deserve condemnation for finding yet another way to enrich their friends and supporters through this sleight of hand. 

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