Ombudsman tells Putin prison system needs reforming

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

SOCHI, Russia. Dec 7 (Interfax) – Russia’s human rights ombudsman argued at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday that the country’s prison system needs reforming, citing increasingly frequent protests by prison inmates, and asked for measures to prevent accidental explosions at military training sites.

“This year there has been no big difference between the quantity and quality of complaints that are sent to the commissioner for human rights,” Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin told Putin.

Lukin drew the president’s attention to a “surge in anxiety and serious manifestations of a pretty nasty kind in prisons.”

“Very serious attention should be paid to all these things. I think that service (the Federal Penalty Enforcement Service, FSIN) needs a reform,” the commissioner said.

He said current official guidelines for reforming the FSIN need revision. “I believe that these guidelines must definitely be revised with public involvement so that it is realistic, Lukin said, adding that the suggested financial allocations for building 50 new prisons stated in them would hardly be sufficient.

He said there had been prison protests in the regions of Chelyabinsk, Saratov, Tver and Rostov and in the republic of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan.

Protests in the Chelyabinsk region targeted alleged extortion of bribes for release on parole and for better conditions of imprisonment. Another problem was that prison administrations looked the other way when convicts were rowing with each other over work if there was too little of it.

Lukin also asked Putin to look into delays with the provision of new housing for military officers.