Moscow's notorious Butyrka detention center will be shut down by its 250th anniversary, the deputy chief of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) has announced.
Valery Maksimenko said on December 17 that Moscow city authorities had made an offer to the FSIN to build a new detention center for 2,000 inmates near Moscow instead of Butyrka and another detention center in Moscow -- Krasnaya Presnya.
According to Maksimenko, Moscow authorities could build the new jail with cells which offer seven square meters of space per inmate -- which is close to European standards -- in one or two years.
"We do not object if it is possible to rerect new pretrial detention centers to replace old ones that are falling apart," Maksimenko said.
Butyrka, Moscow's largest and oldest jail, was originally built in 1771 and was renovated several times since then.
Many prominent Russian and Soviet men and women as well foreign nationals were among those held or killed at Butyrka.
Russian anticorruption lawyer and whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky spent almost a year in Butyrka before he was transferred to another detention center in Moscow, where he died in November 2009.
Before the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, one of the inmates was Feliks Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka, the secret police organization that preceded dictator Josef Stalin's NKVD, the KGB, and post-Soviet Russia's FSB.
Prominent inmates include Sergei Korolyov -- Soviet rocket and spacecraft designer, writers and poets Vladimir Mayakovsky, Isaak Babel, Osip Mandelshtam, Yevgenia Ginzburg, Varlam Shalamov, founder of the first Kazakh government, Alash-Orda, Alikhan Bokeikhan, and many others.