The worst thing that can happen to a person during the COVID-19 pandemic is being in a Russian prison. We all know very well about the huge number of people sitting for nothing - starting from minor offenses, not representing public danger and ending with the political prisoners.
And real criminals also did not deserve the conditions of detention that we have long been aware of from human rights defenders, as well as the lack of medical assistance. In fact, prisoners are left alone with their own death. I asked to be advised by the current journalist and human rights activist Olga Romanova on the current situation in Russian zones and the pre-trial detention center. Here's what she said:
“In “Sitting Russia” we monitor the situation with coronavirus every day:
We have four sources of knowledge: newly released prisoners, sitting (many have mobile phones, which is forbidden, but no one has canceled corruption in the FSIN), relatives of prisoners and employees of the FSIN, who understand that they themselves are in great danger and realize that their leadership deals exclusively with triumphant reports, as usual.
Since the end of March, quarantine has been introduced everywhere, in all places of imprisonment. Meetings and transfers were canceled, meetings with lawyers were practically forbidden (very difficult), investigative actions were terminated. In many places, they refuse to accept mail packages and drug transfers (which is illegal).
There are two sources of infection: recently arrested (in Moscow, a separate pre-trial detention center in Kapotna was allocated for them) and the employees themselves, who bring the virus out of their will. While we are observing the danger precisely because of employees. Many of them were on holidays abroad, and many hid this fact. Why they hide it - of course, official incomes do not allow living broadly, but they live. And therefore they hide it.
This is how the virus penetrated, for example, one of the correctional colonies: the deputy leader returned from a vacation spent in one of the countries of Southeast Asia and immediately went to work, without any quarantine. For two weeks he worked in the zone, spent two round-the-clock shifts - only after that he felt unwell. COVID-19 verified.
What happens in the zone itself is evidenced by one of the prisoners. He was left to sit for several months, he did not leave SUS (strict conditions of detention). That's what he tells us about. In mid-March 2020, the deputy head returned after a rest and a couple of days later went to work. At the end of March, he became ill, he had signs of SARS, the test for COVID-19 was positive. From the time he got to work and until the end of March, he was on duty twice a day, was responsible for everything. During daily shifts he went around all (!!!) the colony’s premises, including the dining room, kitchen, library, and residential huts. 3rd detachment, where Vladimir V. is located - a detachment of attendants. The colleague who was most often in contact with the deputy head and was placed in an infectious diseases hospital in the city is also seriously ill. His wife and children were placed under home quarantine.
In early April 2020, two convicts were summoned to the health center. Virologists who came from Moscow in full anti-epidemic equipment took a test for COVID-19 from them. The results are unknown to them to date. Further, the entire 3rd detachment was locked up in a dwelling - about two hundred people. Food is passed through the door. Then 20 people from the 3rd detachment with signs of acute respiratory viral infections were placed in the health center. The medical staff of the health center, which consists of several paramedics, does not actually have the proper medical education. Literally a day later, one of the 20 convicts with the most severe course of the disease was transferred to another colony to receive therapeutic treatment. Upon learning that the convict arrived from a neighboring colony, the two security shifts left their jobs, not wanting to make contact. They escaped simply.
Remedies used in the colony:
- Every 15 minutes on the internal radio they transmit information that you need to eat garlic and wash your hands every 15 minutes.
- Employees wear masks sewn in the same colony by convicts from improvised material. They call them “idiocy” among themselves, because understand that masks do not protect from anything.
- Masks are not given to convicts.
- Sanitation of premises is not carried out.
Something like that - everywhere. Employees send us written orders from their superiors to prepare beds for patients. Perhaps these are all anti-epidemiological measures for today. ”
The need for amnesty and the release of people from custody in connection with the emergency was expressed by well-known human rights activists and public figures - Alexander Sokurov, Lev Ponomarev, Dmitry Bykov, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Denis Dragunsky and others.
If the authorities do not respond to this call, the situation in the Russian penal system will go out of control, up to riots. Convicts, and, first of all, real criminals, and not random “flying birds”, will turn into a real revolutionary element of unprecedented strength and unheard of action. Ruthless, devoid of reflections, ideologies and even clear goals, obsessed with instincts and a desire for revenge, they will take everything in their path. Only in the romantic legends of past centuries was the crime surrounded by a halo of mystery, mysticism, or even nobility. But I do not believe in "Robin Hoods" of the Putin-navalistic period of Russian history. Where crime begins, politics ends there. However, the same thing happens in power. Thus, Russian history can again become isolated on itself, turning into an archetypal samsaric red-bloody wheel. I really would not want such a turn. Please free the prisoners!
All names and institution names are changed for security reasons.