Inquiry launched into Russian prisoners’ fancy dress party

Russia’s prisons service has launched an inquiry after photos emerged of toga-clad prisoners holding a lavish party complete with caviar and fast food deliveries, media said on Wednesday.

The photographs, now published across the Russian-language internet, show prisoners at the Serpukhov jail outside Moscow naked except for Roman-style togas and a table piled high with a feast fit for an emperor.

The grinning group of a dozen prisoners brandish cardboard tridents and swords while one is even dressed up as a lion. Another image shows a prisoner gleefully spreading a large helping of red caviar on a piece of bread.

The affair is the latest embarrassment for the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishment (FSIN) which runs Russia’s prisons and is criticised both for prisoner abuse and lax control of jails.

“After an internal investigation the guilty officials — right up to the leadership of the jail — will be brought to disciplinary responsibility,” FSIN Moscow region spokeswoman Tatyana Soboleva to the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily.

She said internal investigators were already working at the prison to find out what happened.

The pictures — first published by tabloid site lifenews.ru — were taken with a mobile phone which is banned in Russian jails and show a knife — unsurprisingly also a forbidden object.

While prisoners are allowed certain foodstuffs from outside, caviar is not one of them.

According to the media reports, the party was given in honour of a prominent criminal boss, named as Anton Kuznetsov (26) who has been convicted of robbery. He is also shown taking delivery of food from McDonald’s from a prison hatch.

The Moskovsky Komsomolets daily compared the scandal to a notorious incident in 1994 when officials at the Butyrka prison in Moscow allowed a number of outsiders inside the jail to celebrate the birthday of a criminal boss.


The Russian prison service is also the target of serious allegations of negligence following the 2009 death in Butyrka of 37-year-old lawyer Sergei Magnitsky which sparked international concern. — AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Judge trashes entire lockdown regime as constitutionally flawed

The high court ruling will delight gatvol South Africans but is unlikely to stand the test of time

The backlogs, denials and future of testing Covid-19

The National Health Laboratory Services finally admitted to a bottleneck last week, after denying there were any issues since April. According to the service, the backlog of 80 000 tests started in the first week of May
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday