Outcasts-2. Broken people

Topic of no discussion. «7x7» and public project
«Woman. Prison. Society» present an investigation about sexual abuse in Russian prisons

This project focuses on sexual violence in Russian prisons. Currently, there are about 500,000 men in detention cites.

The first time we started talking about the situation of "Offended" in the insulators and colonies of our country last year. Initiative "Woman. Prison. Society" published the projects "Outcasts" and "Love is forbidden" about homosexual relationships in the penitentiaries.

In the current investigation we want to pay attention to the problem of sexual violence in colonies and detention cites and the situation of sexual violence victims...

"I was put on a bottle ... Оn a plastic one. With disinfecting solution…"

— How many "downcasts" are there in the colony?

— I don't know exactly, about 30 people…

— Well, there are different kinds of "downcasts": prags, those who were raped, forced… Were you forced?

— Yes.

— How many times?

— I don't remember.

— More than five times, ten times?

— Yes. They beat me with a stick, then stuck it in my ass. One stick was broken over me. They put me on a bottle…

— What kind of bottle?

— Plastic one. With disinfecting solution. You know, with a blue cap. We can't go into the kitchen. Once I came in, the stool almost flew into my head...
CC-18, Murmanskaya oblast
Full transcript of the conversation with the prisoner

‒ What's your name?

‒ My full name is Ivan Alexandrovich, L***n Ivan Alexandrovich.

‒ When were you born?


‒ On the 11th of November 1983.

‒ Where do you serve your sentence?


‒ In the correctional colony №18.

‒ Are you willing to make a video?

‒ Yes.

‒ To tell how you live for a camera.

‒ Yes.

‒ How long have you already been here?

‒ For 5 years.

‒ Who are you in this colony?


‒ "Offended".

‒ Do they all (the administration, the head of the colony, the educators) know that you are the "offended"?

‒ Yes.

‒ And what does the word "offended" mean? Explain it in a normal way.

‒ Well, pidaras. But pidaras sounds rude. Omitted person.

‒ Various of offended: omitted; raped; forced. Did they make you?

‒ Yes.

‒ How many times has it been?

‒ I don't remember.

‒ More than five times, ten times?

‒ Yes.

‒ There were acts of violence, right?

‒ Yes. When I came.

‒ When you arrived... In quarantine? Have you been raped by a different men‒status against your will?

‒ Yes.

‒ They forced you, threatened or just scared? How did that happen? Tell me.

‒ Threaten: "If you tell the cops ‒ you are fucked".

‒ And what else was in quarantine? Remember, you told me that they mocked you somehow.

‒ They mocked me differently.

‒ There was the case in quarantine... What year was it? Something is connected with the stick...


‒ It was 2014 when I arrived.

‒ Well, tell me, what was there?...


‒ They beat me with a stick, then they stuck a stick in my ass. One stick was broken on me. They sat me on a bottle…

‒ What kind of bottle?


‒ Plastic one. With disinfecting solution. You know, with a blue cap.

‒ And who did that? Do you know the names of those convicts?

‒ No, I don't know the names.

‒ And who was a quartermaster in quarantine?

‒ The quartermaster was K***v Dima.

‒ That one who is now, right? K***v Dima? Does he know everything about it, too?

‒ Yes. But he wasn't present, because he was at the barrack.

‒ Clear. And others? Who raped you? What else were you forced to do?

‒ I don't remember anymore.

‒ Were there any other violent acts?


‒ No.

‒ With men. Don't be afraid, speak.

‒ With one man was by mutual agreement.

‒ With one was by agreement, the other incidents were against your will, right?


‒ Yes.

‒ May you come into the kitchen?

‒ No.

‒ Are you separated, like all offended? Tell me about this system.

‒ We can't go into the kitchen. Once I came in, the stool almost flew into my head...

‒ How is cleaning in units and other places going on?

‒ Cleaner is I. I clean, I get paid. Half the time, not always...

‒ What is paid?


‒ If they can: cigarettes, tea, coffee...

‒ What are you cleaning?

‒ Toilets, sinks, sections...

‒ And where else do you work for cigarettes?

‒ In the headquarters I work.

‒ Where else?

‒ And in quarantine.

‒ Do you clean the toilets, everything there?

‒ Yes.

‒ Do other convicts clean on schedule?

‒ No.

‒ But how are you allowed to get to quarantine for cleaning? There's the head of the unit, the administration. Do they know that you are cleaning up instead of all those convicted?


‒ Yes.

‒ That is, employees of the administration allow you to quarantine to clean there instead of other convicts?

‒ Yes. They don't clean, don't want. There are all "thieves" and like them...

‒ "Thieves" are in the colony, they know it. And the administration?

‒ Yes.

‒ Would you like the offended had a separate detachment?

‒ Yes, of course.

‒ Because with the "men" you can't eat, nothing can do. What is the number of "offended" in the colony?

‒ I don't know exactly, about 30 people…

‒ You know about 30 people.

‒ Yes.

‒ Do they all do cleaning (for other convicts)?

‒ No, some of them do cleaning, others don't do. For health reasons.

‒ Does the head of the colony knows that there are "offended"?

‒ Yes.

‒ That's par for the course, right?

‒ Yes.

‒ How does the administration control the offended, so that they clean?

‒ The administration does not force them, the the quartermaster of the unit forces.

‒ Is there anyone else besides the quartermaster?


‒ There is an assistant of the quartermaster, by them.

‒ Do they control, influence the rest of the convicts?

‒ Yes.

‒ And thieves?


‒ Yes.

‒ Thieves used to beat you. What about now?


‒ But not now.

‒ It's a bit better now, isn't it?

‒ Yes.

‒ Well, okay, do you know that the video will be sent to the Public Oversight Commission? Not online. Don't worry, this is for the rights of convicts. Do you want to add anything else?

‒ I want to be treated better.

‒ What else?

‒ About my case.

‒ The case according your apartment?

‒ Yes, I sold it for nothing. For 100 000 rubles.

‒ They "helped" you to sell, tricked you ... And did you see that money?

‒ No.

‒ Where did the money go?

‒ I drank with the person I was selling my flat. It was at large. In 2010.

‒ So you are sitting here… You just want to be respected.

Do they make you do washing up at night?

‒ Yes. They sometimes pay, sometimes don't pay...

‒ I know you clean at night, don't sleep at night.

‒ Well, now it's fine, I sleep.

‒ And before that you didn't sleep. Are you cleaning the headquarters alone, all two floors?

‒ Yes.

‒ What are you cleaning there?

‒ Toilets, galley, offices, the whole long corridor.

‒ And do you clean the snow outside?

I saw you at 6 a.m. When do you wake up?

‒ At 4.30 a.m.

‒ And break the ice?

‒ Yes.

‒ Did the head of the colony Klimov often see you cleaning and breaking the ice?

‒ Yes.

‒ Often saw. And the deputy head of the colony for security and operational work saw?

‒ Yes, everybody.

‒ Major I***v Alexander Alexandrovich?

‒ Yes.

‒ And they said nothing? Do they know that you are the "offended", that you are cleaning every day?

‒ Yes.

‒ Do you get paid for this?

‒ No.

‒ Are you paid a salary?

‒ No.

‒ How long have you been cleaning headquarters?


‒ Half a year.

‒ Have you never been paid money?

‒ No.

‒ Has the head of the colony ever paid attention? Has he offered the support?

‒ No.

‒ Do they just pass by without paying attention to you?

‒ How many times a day do you go there to clean?


‒ Every day. Three times a day: in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening.


In this video, a prisoner (a "downcast") of one of the colonies in Murmansk tells about sexual abuse that he has suffered many times. The author of the project "Woman. Prison. Society", human rights activist Leonid Agafonov suggests that the video was shot by one of the prisoners, also a downcast.
"This video is unique. Firstly, because phones are prohibited in the colonies and remand centres. Secondly, the very fact of abuse in the story says that the victim is not able to keep silent any more. Cases of sexual abuse are a frequent phenomenon in the penitentiaries. Such crimes are being hidden, hidden for years. Everyone knows about it, but no one speaks about it out loud.

Breaking [psychological; suppressing a person's will] mainly occurs when a prisoner arrives at a colony. So-called «acceptance stage»: a prisoner is treated cruelly in order to „put him into place".

The act of abuse this man talks about occurred in the quarantine. It means the rapists had cooperated with the administration, because no one but the colony employees could let them in there. Other victims refuse to talk about sexual coercion. This reflects the fact that they are intimidated by both the administration and the cons. They are broken people who cannot resist the „machine" [the penitentiary system], so they are forced to receive additional kicks from both other prisoners and the colony administration.

Discussing this topic, you need to understand that „downcasts" can't avoid abuse. Largely, this kind of a man is defenseless. In Norway, prisons are arranged according to the hostel principle. Some prisoners even have separate rooms where they can be alone. In such circumstances, it is difficult to imagine a situation when a prisoner is knocking at the door to have sex at night. Prisoners have no personal space at all in the Russian penitentiaries. In the barracks, there can be 100–150 people, and someone always has some needs. A „downcast" can't go to a safe place, he is always under observation, under pressure. They can just walk up to him, kick him and say: „Let's go to the toilet, let's catch up…" Nobody cares if a downcast wants to sleep, whether he ever sleeps or not. The character of the video gets up at 4.30, goes clean the rooms, works all day long, then... he is raped. For a prisoner it is always easier to work for a pack of cigarettes than tolerate such mockery till morning. And where will he go at night to complain that someone is forcing him?.."
According to our data, the list of prisoners who were abused in that colony was more than 10 people, but all of them refused to confirm that they were forced to have sex. Project "Woman. Prison. Society" knows that the Federal Penitentiary Service has this video, but everything that happens in Correctional Colony №18 of Murmansk Oblast hasn't been considered in keeping with the law yet. Anyway, we are not aware of such cases.

A member of the PMC that visited this prisoner wished to remain anonymous. He told us that the character of the video had confirmed abuse. But in the opinion of the prisoner, he got what he deserved, because he had been convicted under the "bad article" (crime against sexual inviolability). The victim has no complaints against his rapists. The observer added that the prisoner had looked extremely exhausted.
Comments
Psychologist and speech therapist, co-founder of the movement "Psychology for Human Rights" Kirill Fyodorov comments:
"It might be some kind of self suggestion or self adjustment to what actually happened. People are mirroring surrounding atmosphere, where they are convinced that they deserved it and should not be surprised. You accept the rules until the end of your term. It's difficult to separate external reasons from internal".
We believe that turning the topic to the public domain can stop sexual abuse in Russian prisons. On behalf of the project "Woman. Prison. Society" we appeal to the Prosecutor's Office and the Investigative Committee with a request to undertake an investigation of informational nature of violence in Correctional Colony №18 of Murmansk Oblast. We also hope that the International Human Rights Community will pay attention to this problem.
Lawyer Ksenia Mikhailova:

"It seems to me the person on the video is not imagining things and expressing them. Quite the contrary, he is laconic. It is clear that it is difficult for him to speak. Therefore, I don't think that he is making something up. He answers leading questions and details his story. Then, without further help from the interlocutor, he tells about it in detail: how it happened, where, when. He even remembers the contents of the bottle and the color of the bottle cap. To my mind, there is no reason not to trust this testimony".
Ksenia Mikhailova, advocate of LGBT-organization "Coming Out", believes that in such cases the inaction of the penitentiary's administration lies out of the legal field, and it is obvious. But it is very difficult to help such people:
"While lawyers are taking necessary legal steps on the outside, there are no guarantees that the person won't be harmed. It is clear, if a prisoner reports being in unsafe conditions, he should be placed in some safe conditions under the Criminal Executive Code article. But then the administration must find out what happened, establish the facts and initiate proceedings under Article 132 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation [violent acts of sexual nature]. Criminal proceedings will not be conducted though, because it breaks the entire system, the entire hierarchy that officials control and often support. People don't see the point in protecting their rights there.

In general, it is difficult to conduct some kind of investigation under Article 132, especially in a colony, where no one ever says anything, fearing for their safety. It is difficult to prove anything even on the outside. And here we have a case of violence which may have happened several years ago in a closed institution.

The man became a „downcast". Maybe physical violence won't repeat, but so-called „voluntary" contacts do: they require intimacy from a person. Fearing for his safety, he obeys. After several years, it is almost impossible to investigate".
Psychologist Kirill Fyodorov speaks about another factor that makes prisoners, who have experienced sexual abuse, remain silent:
"It's hard for a person to talk about some of his vulnerabilities. It may simply be a failure, for example, a failed exam. It may be the loss of human dignity due to sexual abuse. The prisoner in the video hardly talks about his experience. Survivors of sexual abuse often have a total sense of shame. Shame is a bright emotion that is accompanied by thoughts: „I am principally wrong", „I deserve what happened to me", „This doesn't happen to good people", „This doesn't happen to normal men, they are not raped". Therefore, it is difficult for a person not only to talk about this publicly, but to inform his relatives about the other side of his life and about his pain".
Violence has a negative impact on the psychological and physical condition of the prisoner. Medical expert Ksenia Barkhatova speaks about possible consequences of rape for the health of the victim:
"Health can be affected in very different ways, ranging from anal fissures to rupture of the intestinal mucosa and anal sphincter. Trauma of the intestinal mucosa can sometimes lead to purulent complications. Anal intercourse often injures soft rectal tissues. Micro-ruptures and micro-fissures contribute to infiltration of contaminants and microbes into the bloodstream and this can lead to infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, shigellosis, giardiasis, and others. It also leads to the spread of diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and other sexually transmitted infections. Cystitis and urethritis are also possible due to microflora from the intestine entering the bladder and urinary canal.

Purulent complications and ruptures of the sphincter and rectal paries are possible as well as other injuries. Such complications require taking medicaments in the form of suppositories, ointments, baths, micro-clysters, drugs to relieve pain, physiotherapy and exercise therapy, antiseptic hygiene and antibiotic prophylaxis, and, if necessary, procto-surgery".
Procedure
Is there anything we can do? Lawyer Ksenia Mikhailova speaks:
"What can we theoretically prove? We can conduct a forensic examination, confirming that there was indication of homosexual intercourse with the mentioned person. If it was a one-time event long ago, it will be almost impossible to prove something. The forensic examiner is able to determine whether the act is reproduced violently or non-violently. But most likely he won't come to a clear conclusion. This will require the testimony of the victim and those people who saw it, if they are some. If he was beaten with a stick, injuries could have remained from that time, so it would be possible to prove that they appeared during the period of his stay in the colony. Then it could constitute a reason to hold the administration liable.

Even if it is impossible to identify who did that, this is reasonable to talk about the improper execution of duties by colony staff [FPS]. It can be identified from the duty's notes, who exactly neglected the duties".
Ksenia Barkhatova notes that there is a methodology for conducting a forensic medical examination, which was previously secured by the Order of the Health Ministry of the Russian Federation No. 161 of April 24, 2003 (now it is canceled). Examination should be carried out within 1 day after sexual intercourse, since traces of an active partner (discharge, sperm) will disappear. Other evidences, such as anal fissures, irritation of the rectal mucosa, cicatricial traces persist much longer and can be fixed within 1–2 months after anal contact.

Sexual violence can be identified due to specific features by a forensic expert, relying on the results of an external examination and basic examinations made by a proctologist, and in his absence — by a surgeon. The proctologist in this case can carry out an external examination of the anus, digital examination of the rectum, anoscopy.
Leonid Agafonov:

"If a prisoner reports a case of violence, he may be put in a safe place. But he is intimidated: most likely, he has seen that those prisoners collaborated with the administration. And he could take all these humiliations as a punishment upon orders of the administration. This is one of the reasons why people keep silent. They are sure that their complaints will not come out of the penitentiary. And the administration will never let any complaints outside the colony.

This fear has quite clear explanation. First, a crime committed in a penitentiary affects the statistics. It is quite obvious: such cases will do no good to the administration. Secondly, violence is a tool to intimidate prisoners: „If you behave inadequately, you can also be humiliated like that". Hardly anyone intervenes, at best the administration transfers troublesome prisoner".
The Istanbul Protocol makes recommendations how to work with violence victims in penitentiaries. You can read the full text of the Istanbul Protocol here.

All international acts are of recommendatory character, so everything depends on the willingness of states to use these recommendations.

Recently, in the Court of Yekaterinburg, criminal proceedings were conducted against the former deputy chief of Сorrectional Сolony №54 of Sverdlovsk Oblast, where prisoners were tortured and raped. The court sentenced Rafik Zinatullin to 8 years 6 months in a penal colony.

His name was Lana

Sasha is in a colony now, serving the second time. He went to prison for the first time for theft at the age of 19. He served his sentence in Komi. His total prison experience is 10 years. Sasha doesn't want to tell which place he is in. He's afraid. He will be released this year, in June. The FPS will buy him tickets to Moscow, but then our hero has nowhere to go, only to a friend named Alice (also a "downcast"), whom he met during the first term.
Telephones are prohibited in the penitentiary, but prisoners surf the Internet, risking that the "forbidden device" will be taken away any time. So, Sasha told us his story on social networks. The interview lasted for several months, so we learned a little about the life of the "downcasts" in detention sites. Sasha is openly gay, which has determined his position in the caste system of Russian prisons forever.

He is a "downcast". It seems to be the lowest caste in the penitentiaries, but among these people there are even more humiliated — openly gay people who, one way or another, declare their orientation publicly. With the story of Alexander, we want to say that in Russian prisons there are several rounds of discrimination and violence, which are firmly connected with each other and the entire penitentiaries of Russia.
"I am the worst"
— How have your cellmates learnt that you are gay?

— It was the first term. I was 19. I said at once that I was gay. When I was brought to the detention site, I asked the operatives for a talk. They talked to me, then I went to the FZ [fag zone, a place for "brats" — young weak people used as passive homosexual partners], so that there would be no problems. I'm with the guys since high school. If someone had found out that I didn't say [about my orientation], they would have killed me.

— When did you have the first sex in the detention site?

— In the first night in prison, in the FZ.

— Was it consensual? Did you use a condom?

— So what else could I do? No, of course without. However, it is impossible to say no to «trusties». At night [a cellmate] called me up, hung up the sheets, then he made me strip. I had a thong on... So, in a thong, he showed me off in front of others and told everyone who I was…

I am the worst of all. I have my personal tableware, even the "downcasts" hesitate to drink from my cup... Before fucking me, he showed me naked to everyone, just in a thong.

I am a "brat" that loves [having sex with] men, I am the worst guy among the "downcasts".
Leonid Agafonov:

"Discussing the topic of the downcasts, we face the opinion that prisoners with low social status need to be isolated in separate units. But after a while, their own hierarchy appears in these closed groups. Separation will not help to solve this problem. It is necessary to change the system".
Psychologist Kirill Fyodorov:

"This is the question of certain compensation, I guess. If I am suppressed and dominated at, I will also find someone to suppress in order to get my self-esteem and importance back. This is the way of coping with your low hierarchy position. Sexual abuse is one of the most traumatic life events for a man. Not everyone could somehow reflex this experience with a healthy, healing attitude.

This cause a lot of stress and anxiety, shame and guilt. There are researches showing the connection between shame and aggression. Especially men, who doubt their masculinity and feel ashamed about this, become aggressive to prove, primarily for themselves, that they are real „men": hit the next guy walking by, yell at wife. People like this find more vulnerable person and begin to pour everything out, their enormous reservoir of negative emotions, and in this particular case — the whole ocean of emotions".
Personal "brat"
— When I first came to the zone [correctional colony], I was explained the rules of the "downcasts cell", it is like a registration. Everyone plays cards... So I lost 800 thousand rubles to "chief brat" [an unofficial leader of "brats"] named Alice. As I owe him, I have become his personal "brat". Even now I cannot write without his permission ... [Alice is at large]

— Who is a "chief brat"?

— A well-respected "trustie" everyone listens to. He is someone to whom people come to settle a quarrel, ask for advice. Only the "downcasts" decide who can become the head of them. Or the administration in "red zones" [where the administration's power has no limit].

— Does he get a share if other "downcasts" work, clean or provide other services?

— Of course. Cigarettes are brought to him, tea... the "chief brat" keeps and distributes then: what, where, to whom.

— That is, he has such a small common fund?

— Yes, he does.

— Can a "chief brat" rent out someone from the downcasts? For cleaning, for example?

— Yes. When "managers" ask him, he arranges the duties.

— And sex services?

— And sex services, to be honest. But I'm supervised personally by Alice, even from the outside.

— Do you have sex prices?

— For oral sex — depends on agreement with "trusties", about a couple packs of cigarettes, or a packet of tea, whatever thy can get. Basically, they cheat: promise but don't give. They call you to the supply room, and you have to "work" all night...
Leonid Agafonov:

"Sex-price depends on conditions, colony distance, and the individual. But it should always be considered as a payment for violence, and not as a payment for a service. A person is still forced, but sometimes they try to pay off".
Fragment of the interview
"Suffered from their big mouths"
— How did the other prisoners get into the FZ?

— Most of them suffered from their big mouths... They confessed that they licked girls' pussies [did cunnilingus]. They arrived and frankly talked about it. Downcasts are divided into "workers" and "non-workers". A "worker" fucks and sucks, and "non-worker" is someone who got into the FZ for his words, he doesn't fuck.

— If another prisoner offers sex to a "non-working" "downcast", can he refuse?

— Yes, he can, but... If they want to, they'll talk him into doing it. If no, they will beat him, really (sometimes hard), and then they might back off.

— Are there a lot of openly gay in the colony?

— No, not many. Almost nobody. Generally, they are afraid to talk about it.

— Do the "downcasts" know that there are some organizations fighting for LGBT-rights, gay rights?

— They don't trust anyone here. These organization won't make their life here better.
"They are being abusive to me"
journalist:
What kind of work do the "downcasts" usually do?
Alexander:
They wash the floor in the detachment, the toilets... I work in the bath house. I wash the floor there, I wash clothes. This work is not permanent. I have enough free time. The bath house doesn't work on weekends, but the week has just begun, so today I have a lot to do.
JOURNALIST:
Are you tired?
Alexander:
Yes, I have done a lot of laundry today [the "downcasts" serve as servants for other prisoners].
JOURNALIST:
Hand wash? What about laundry detergent?
Alexander:
Yes, hand wash. Of course, those who leave their clothes for washing give me some laundry detergent.
JOURNALIST:
Your hands probably hurt, don't they?
Alexander:
I've already got used to it, I use a hand cream. Mostly small things are to be washed: panties, socks, T-shirts... I'm being paid 500 rubles a month for his work. Payments come to his shop card.
JOURNALIST:
Do you eat and drink tea separately from other prisoners?
Alexander:
Yes, we have separate tables in the canteen. More than that, my place is separate from "brats". So they are being abusive to me, as I am a cocksucker. I live separately from the others. There are 80 people in the detachment, five of us are "brats", I am the only "worker" among them.
"Such humiliating pictures... They think I don't care"
Sasha is the hero of posts in prisoners' communities in social networks.

— I'm used to it [to popularity in social networks]. They have been writing about me in the communities for a long time. The pictures are so humiliating... They think I don't care. We are nobody here. Our opinion doesn't exist for anyone here
Leonid Agafonov:

"Look through the social network and find special communities for prisoners and those who are interested, how many visual materials there are related to sex in prison. You can buy them for money or pay for participation in a community where they are posted. Of course, not all videos and photographs are related to penitentiaries, but among the content there may be recordings with the participation of real „downcasts" who become victims of abuse and involvement into the pornography and prostitution".
Handmade condoms
— I'm tired today. There was general cleaning in the bath. The floor, the walls and everything that is possible. I have washed everything.

— Are there any rubber gloves?

— There are. But I hide them, they are turned into condoms right away. Everything goes instead of condoms, just to... Even plastic bags.

— Do you think this is helpful?

— Yes, at least a bit.

— Do I understand correctly that condoms are prohibited in the penitentiaries?

— Yes, but they are brought from long visits.

— And gay sex is also forbidden…

— Yes, it is.

— Has anybody ever been caught? And what is the punishment for it?

— Imprisonment in a solitary [a punishment cell]. But it rarely happens. In separate rooms: workers room, for example, even in toilets…

— What consequences are there for prisoners?

— No parole for them. This is a violation. If they call someone to the commission, he is given a penalty. But they will say it is for smoking in the wrong place.
Фрагмент интервью
Leonid Agafonov: "Of course, this system affects the HIV situation in the penitentiaries: 10% of the male prisoners in Russia are HIV-positive. It is impossible to identify how many of them got HIV due to sex relations, how many because of injections, who got a positive status on the outside and in detention sites. The administration always says that obtaining positive HIV status is not related to the detention site. The only way to find out that a person became HIV-positive in prison is when he is in the colony for a long time and he is diagnosed with HIV while serving a sentence".
Prison Castes
— Could you please write a few words about castes / groups the prisoners are divided into?

— The "trusties" are the highest caste; they also look after the penitentiary or prison. Then there are the "muzhiks", they [don't strive to become "trusties"]: they simlpy live and work. Then come the "swindlers" — those who "snoop" (do minor services and household chores): make tea, wash the dishes. Then the "punks" — those who are cons, administrative assistants. Then you can see us, the "brats" — mostly "trusties" who broke prison rules. I am very grateful that you treat us well and pay attention to us.

— Do you think that this system can be eradicated?

— Somehow it is necessary to equalize the rights for everyone, but I don't know how...

— Do you think it is necessary to exclude voluntary sex as a violation from the Code of Criminal Procedure?


— Wow. I'll be the first to vote. And condoms should be allowed.
Leonid Agafonov:

"This is a view of our hero, a vision of a person who is inside the system. In fact, there are three main castes in prison: „muzhiks", „trusties", and „downcasts". All the groups, except „downcasts", are mobile. A „punk" can become a „worker" (a „muzhik") or a „downcast". The same story is with the „swindlers": one starts to wash himself, takes care of himself, and becomes a „muzhik". It does not change his status. A prisoner who is a „downcast" cannot rise above his caste. He was a „downcast" yesterday, he is a „downcast" today and he will remain a „downcast" tomorrow. And a „swindler" can wash himself and become a „manager" or a „worker" (a „muzhik")."
"I dream about breasts"
— To be honest, I dream about breasts.

— And what size do you want?

— Size Two. Maybe Size One. I miss women's things, I have got only mascara here. I would like panties, stockings... I feel like a girl, I take care of myself. I always shave my legs. I had some things here, but the administration took everything away, it is not allowed. I suffer a lot without female things. At least underwear... Here is an old photo when I used to have them. This is me at work in the bath house.

— How did you manage to bring women's things to the colony?

— After a long visit. They brought me things, not for free, of course...

— Do you get a manicure?

— No, I have nothing for a manicure here. I would do, of course.

— Is there a barber at the bath house?

— There is a barber, but... A manicure?! Nobody will do it. Just give a hint, and they might tease me about that!..
"Meaningful Nicknames"
— Do you have a nickname?

— Lana. Alice gave me this name. That is «anal» backwards. To tell the truth, I like it. They give meaningful nicknames here.

— What are the other "downcasts'" nicknames?

— I can't tell you.
Alexander (Lana) will be released in June. He wants to sunbathe in a thong on the beach. He hopes that Alice accepts him and helps get settled.
Correctional colony №5, St. Petersburg
This is a video from the colony "Metallostroy" CC-5 [correctional colony], which is located in St. Petersburg. Video was shot in 2007 after the so-called prisoners' "riot". It is published on the Internet under the heading "Establishing a Regime". This video caught our attention.
Колония «Металлострой» ИК-5, Санкт-Петербург
This passage of 5 minutes 41 seconds contains 23 offensive expressions addressed to prisoners by the staff of the colony. 12 expletives have offensive sexual overtones or are related to sexual orientation. Thus, every 14 seconds derogatory words from FPS officers are addressed to prisoners.
Leonid Agafonov:

"I paid attention to this video for the following reasons:

First, it was filmed either by the employees themselves or with their permission. I don't know the reason. Maybe it is done for intimidation, for internal use, or for superiors. Such videos will never be allowed for no reason.

I have repeatedly been in this colony as a public observer and recognised the location of filming. This is really a penal insulator CC-5, a walking yard.

Secondly, the prison staff treat a group of prisoners as „downcasts". They call them rudely. We cannot be 100 % sure, which caste the seven people belong to. All of them are from the punishment cell. As seen in the footage, they run in a circle, „show a deer" [„show a deer" — to squat, having hands pressed against the head with the fingers spread]. Generally, there is no such procedure of punishing cell prisoners with doing such an exercise. It is difficult to say why prison staff made prisoners do this, but I assume that this was an additional measure of humiliation. One prisoner was not able to walk like that.

I can confidently predict one thing: the colony staff wouldn't behave like that with ordinary prisoners. In general, the staff of the colony should have been dismissed for such an attitude towards prisoners, including for insults. Prisoners are people, too, whatever they are. They have already been condemned, so why humiliate them further? In order to release the criminals who believe in nothing?"
Coordinator of Alliance of the Heterosexuals and LGBT for Equality Alexei Sergeev:

"We can see that open gay and bisexual people are in the back of the prison hierarchy, even among their caste representatives. The system doesn't give them any chances to get out of there. The dirtiest work, total disempowerment, humiliation, and regular sexual abuse are everyday realities for tens of thousands of people.

Unfortunately, human rights organizations which help prisoners ran into the firewall put up by the penal system. Considering overall homophobic course, there are even more obstacles for LGBT-organizations. For changes, the FPS has to become more open and transparent, no longer treat the representatives of civil society as enemies. Personal inevitable responsibility must be established for torture, humiliation, sexual abuse.

The penitentiary definitely contributes to the general homophobia of Russian society: based on lack of rights, humiliation, and violence towards LGBT-people, it is being broadcast on the outside. That's why, there is a large space for activists' work: in the field of conveying the truth about what is happening in prisons; educating society; protecting human rights, rehabilitating ex-prisoners".
From the videos and interviews it seems that the entire penitentiary system, from prisoners to employees, is permeated by caste beliefs and violence. But after all, we believe that it can be changed and should be changed. Decisions on specific cases of violence in the penitentiary system should begin to change the whole system: perpetrators of violence should be punished, rapists should be convicted, officials should be held responsible and lose their jobs, victims of violence should be placed in a safe place and get necessary help.
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