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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prison Expansion Urged

The Russian system of prisons and labor camps is in need of an urgent program of expansion and rebuilding to deal with overcrowding, insanitary conditions and spreading disease, an Interior Ministry official said Tuesday.

Major General Valery Orlov, acting head of the ministry's department supervising prisons and labor camps, told a press conference there were now 659,000 prisoners including 21,800 women and 20,200 juveniles in 793 penitentiaries across the country.

"All in all, we must create 113,000 new places for prisoners in the country," he said. "But we do not receive enough money from the state."

He said the country's prisons, designed to hold a total of 170,000 people, at present hold 233,000 prisoners.

Orlov said the government had promised to give his department 991 billion rubles ($500 million) from January to August but the department had received only 724 billion. Each prisoner costs the state about 3,000 rubles per day, he said.

"Insanitary conditions in some prisons have caused an increase in diseases. Tuberculosis is now a serious danger for us," Orlov said.

He said there were 26 hospitals for prisoners in Russia, 36 special hospitals for tubercular patients and 44 anti-tuberculosis labor camps treating 70,000 patients, more than 30,000 with TB.

Valery Abramkin, a human-rights activist, said by phone that human rights were violated "everywhere" in Russian prisons and labor camps.

Abramkin said the first step of the real reform should be the decentralization and demilitarization of the gulag system which still existed.