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Hunger Strike Begins At Russian Labor Camp


The prisoners are demanding a meeting with Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika to discuss how they are being treated.

The prisoners are demanding a meeting with Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika to discuss how they are being treated.

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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