KIROVO-CHEPETSK, Russia, -- Convicts at a maximum security prison in central Russia have started a hunger strike to demand an easing of prison regulations and an end to "arbitrary reprisals," RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
Local rights activists told journalists that the prisoners at the labor camp in Kirovo-Chepetsk are demanding a meeting with Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika and human rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.
Officials from the regional branch of the Federal Service for Correctional Institutions (FSIN) told RFE/RL that 24 inmates are on hunger strike. Human rights activists, however, estimate that the number on strike could be as high as 1,000.
The camp has more than 2,000 inmates; most of them repeat offenders of serious crimes.
A former camp inmate named Aleksei told RFE/RL that when convicts arrive at the penitentiary they are usually forced to perform up to 500 push ups and 800 sit ups. "If you refuse they immediately use electric shocks [on you]," he said.
Kirov Oblast Prosecutor Sergei Berezhitsky and Ombudsman Vladimir Klimov have arrived in Kirovo-Chepetsk from the oblast capital, Kirov, to assess the situation.
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