Sushi and whisky: hard time in Russia's VIP prisons

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Ex-prisoner claims that if you have cash, you can live the good life behind bars

For most people, spending years in a Russian prison camp would be a living nightmare. But one ex-prisoner has described how it can be a time of whisky, sushi and relative freedom – if you have enough money.

Andrei, a former assistant to a Russian member of parliament who was sentenced to nine years in jail in 2006 for embezzlement, says that from day one of his time in the camps, money was the only language. in an interview with Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, the former prisoner explains in detail how he paid his way through his years in jail, where he says that anything can be bought for the right price.

"We had whatever we wanted. I even ate sushi every day," he told the paper, to which he showed photographs that backed up his claims. "We had a great table laid on for us in the camp – sushi, champagne, whisky."

His allegations come just a month after photos were published of prisoners partying in a prison just outside Moscow.

The photos showed inmates dressed up in togas, sitting down to a lavish meal and having McDonald's delivered to their cell. The governor of the prison was sacked after the photos appeared on the internet. Both incidents show how corruption, endemic in Russia, has also engrained itself in the Russian prison system.

Andrei claimed he was allowed, for a fee, to live in the hotel used for conjugal visits, which is on the camp's grounds, and leave whenever he wanted so long as he returned at night. "I put up a bar, home cinema and brought back whoever I wanted," he said.

The newspaper printed a series of Andrei's photos from the camp, including one with him and a large plate of sushi rolls and one of him on his mountain bike.

Whenever he wanted to go to see his family, two guards would accompany him to Moscow.

Having a drink one weekend in Moscow, he said police came and started asking everyone for documents. "I said I am a runaway prisoner. They just laughed and left."

He says he once went on holiday to Italy for the weekend without the camp noticing.

Much of the money he gave went on repairs to the camp, he said, which are poorly funded by the state. "If I went for a walk in town to go bowling – I did that nearly every day – then I would ask what I should bring back," he said, "The [prison service's] principle is that all repairs should be paid for by the prisoners."

He claimed that two camp chiefs battled over him because they knew of his monetary worth for their camps.

Russian journalist Olga Romanova, whose husband is in jail on charges she says are false, has written of how she had to pay a series of bribes when her husband was arrested. As with Andrei, she sometimes bought items for the jail – a heater and a computer – and estimated that in nine months she paid out more than £20,000 in bribes.

Andrei spoke to the paper after it had run an interview with a prison guard who said that prisoners were forced to pay bribes. Andrei said he did not believe anything would change after his revelations. Somebody might be punished, he added, but not the system.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'