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Mass Hunger Strike Under Way In Western Georgian Prison

Some 1,000 inmates in a penitentiary in Georgia's western Imereti Province have launched a hunger strike, protesting what they call abusive prison conditions.

Georgia's minister of correctional institutions, Sozar Subari, said the hunger strike, which started on February 7, was initiated by criminal bosses serving their terms in the Geguti penitentiary near the regional capital, Kutaisi.

Subaru told journalists that he had been informed about the preparations for the hunger strike and had spoken with Georgian Ombudsman Ucha Nanuashvili about the issue.

According to Subari, recent reforms have affected the special privileges often accorded criminal bosses in penitentiaries.

He said the inmates are trying to reverse the reforms by organizing such protests.

Hundreds of relatives of the striking inmates gathered in front of the Geguti prison on February 7, demanding a meeting with the penitentiary's administration.

Based on reporting by and Interfax