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Report: 800 Self-Mutilation Cases At Russian Prison

4 July 2005 -- Russian prisoner advocates say the number of prisoners who have mutilated themselves in protest of conditions in the Lgov jail, in southwestern Russia, has reached 800.

Igor Mikhalevich, the representative of the group For Civil Rights in the Kursk region, where Lgov is located, said in Moscow today that the number has reached 800 and that dozens of prisoners had been moved secretly to undisclosed destinations.

The protest began late last month when hundreds of inmates slashed themselves with razor blades. The director of the Russian organization For Human Rights, Lev Ponamarev, says that many families are unable to get news about their imprisoned relatives.

Meanwhile, Kursk regional authorities said that prison director Yurii Bushin had been suspended pending an inquiry. About 1,500 men are held at the institution.

Russia has repeatedly been criticized by human-rights campaigners for its overcrowded, disease-ridden, and violent prisons.