Sushi and whisky: hard time in Russia's VIP prisons
Ex-prisoner claims that if you have cash, you can live the good life behind bars
Friday 26 August 2011
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.
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Eleven members of same family hospitalised after eating deadly pufferfish
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Phone-hacking: The Piers Morgan connection - Mirror admits some stories during Morgan's tenure may have been obtained by illegal means
Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...