Russian prisoners in razor-blade protest against abuse

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Hundreds of inmates of a jail in western Russia have slashed themselves in protest against alleged abuse by the prison authorities, the regional prosecutor's office said.

Hundreds of inmates of a jail in western Russia have slashed themselves in protest against alleged abuse by the prison authorities, the regional prosecutor's office said.

The 260 prisoners used razor blades to cut themselves during the protest Monday night in a prison in Lgov, near the border with Ukraine, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, Tatyana Severilova, said. Law enforcement officials said the inmates had cut their veins and necks. But the injuries they inflicted were believed not to be serious.

Russian human rights campaigners believe up to 500 prisoners were involved in the protest. "We decided to send several human rights campaigners to Lgov to collect more information about what happened," said Lev Ponomaryov, the head of the All-Russian Public Movement for Human Rights.

A criminal inquiry has been opened against the prison administration for alleged abuse of authority, the prosecutor's office said.

The Russian prison service condemned the protest as an act of disobedience. "The inmates' actions were aimed at destabilising the situation in the jail, and were motivated by their refusal to accept legitimate demands of the prison authorities for the enforcement of detention rules," it said in a statement issued through the Interfax news agency.

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