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Russia's Boom Business: Forced Labor in Prisons

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

When Nadezhda Tolokonnikova arrived at penal colony IK-14 in August 2012, a deputy warden proudly announced: "As far as my political convictions go, I am a Stalinist."

Tolokonnikova soon learned what that meant in practice. One year into her sentence for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred," the Pussy Riot activist launched a hunger strike to protest "slave labor in prisons." In an open letter in September 2013, she accused prison officials of treating convicts like "livestock for the needs of sewing production."

Since her release in a December 2013 amnesty, Tolokonnikova has dedicated herself to prison-reform advocacy.

The protestations of Tolokonnikova and other activists aside, Russian authorities are ramping up the use of prison labor, despite the unpleasant echoes of the country's Stalinist experience.

In February, for example, the Federal Penitentiary Service signed an agreement with the Sberbank state savings bank to create a "Trade House" that would facilitate the sale of products produced in Russian prisons. The goal of the project is to increase state revenues from prisoner labor.

To read the full story

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Russia's Boom Business: Forced Labor in Prisons

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