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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

07/03/1997

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New Criminal Code Gets Wary Welcome

A new legal code on life in Russia's overcrowded prisons came into force July 1, promising a more liberal approach, but prisoner rights activists say that not all the changes are good and the government does not have the money to pay for them. Better visiting rights, a more flexible approach to punishment and guaranteed wages and pensions are among the key reforms under the new Criminal Code that is designed to improve conditions for Russia's 1.3 million prisoners. Yet human-rights activists and prison officials were skeptical that the new law would make a difference. Sergei Salnin, an activist with the public organization Assistance to Criminal Justice Reform, said brutality in Russian prisons is the result of the unwritten laws of the criminal world and the arbitrariness of prison authorities. ""We do not take [the new code] very seriously because the law is one thing, and life is another,"" he said. The law will also do little to address the underfunding of prisons.

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