NewsRussia closes prisons as convicts join Ukraine war effort

Russia closes prisons as convicts join Ukraine war effort

Penal colonies to be closed. Everyone went to war.
Penal colonies to be closed. Everyone went to war.
Images source: © TG

6:52 PM EDT, March 21, 2024

In the Krasnoyarsk Territory of Russia, several penal colonies are set to be closed, sparked by an unusual reason: convicts are being sent to war in Ukraine. This situation was brought to light by the regional human rights ombudsman, Mark Denisov, who also expressed concerns in a report sent to higher authorities.

An unintended consequence of the war, as pointed out by Vladimir Putin’s policies, is the drastic reduction of the prison population. Prisoners have been granted pardons in exchange for agreeing to serve in the military and fight on the front lines.

In specific, two penal colonies in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, IK-16 and IK-7, experienced such a sharp decline in inmate numbers that it triggered a report to senior officials. This report suggested the closure of such facilities as a means of optimization and cost savings.

"A one-time significant reduction in convict numbers led to a proposal for closing certain penitentiary institutions in our region to save resources. These facilities will be out of operation this year," stated Mark Denisov, the regional human rights ombudsman.

The Federal Penitentiary Service's Main Directorate of the Krasnoyarsk Territory noted that colony IK-16 housed men who had previously been imprisoned, while IK-7 was known for its stricter regime.

Plans are in place to shut down several other facilities, though specifics have not been disclosed.

The regional civil rights advocate mentioned that closing these penal colonies could significantly impact the region, labeling these institutions as "essentially city-forming enterprises," and warned that their closure could lead to a variety of problems.

He also predicted that within five years, there would be a need to reopen these facilities.

"The war will eventually end, and normalcy will return. The underlying social fabric of our society remains unchanged. In five years, we'll find ourselves addressing rights violations of prisoners and, at a great cost, reopening new penitentiary institutions," he added.

New group of convicts sent to the front

This Tuesday, the Russian State Duma approved, in its third and final reading, two bills allowing the release of prisoners to serve in the military under contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense. This means that thousands of criminals, including individuals convicted of rape, will be joining the front lines.

It's important to note that the draft law excludes those convicted of serious child sexual abuse offenses. "However, those convicted of raping adults may be released from their sentences in exchange for military service," the report clarifies.

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