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Russia: Almost Half Of All Prisoners Ill

Moscow, 4 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A Russian official says almost half of prisoners in Russia's overcrowded jails suffer from various illnesses -- most of them mental. The Interfax news agency today quotes Deputy Justice Minister Yury Kalinin as saying 460,000 of 962,000 prisoners are ill. Kalinin said some 305,000 inmates -- or nearly one-third -- have mental illnesses.

Kalinin said some 92,000 prisoners suffer from tuberculosis, and 33,600 have HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS.

Kalinin said prison administrators do not have the facilities to keep ill prisoners separate from the rest of the prisoners, and therefore only those deemed dangerous to others are isolated.

The conditions in Russian jails are regularly denounced by human rights organizations and other bodies, including the Council of Europe, of which Russia is a member.