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Published in Stream:
Russia Today: July 25, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Hundreds of Convicts Riot in Khakassia Labor Colony, Demanding Muslim Prayer Time, Lighter Regimen
6 years
More than 100 convicts organized a rebellion in Corrective Labor Colony No. 35 in the republic of Khakassia in southwestern Russia, RIA Novosti reported.

On Sunday, July 24, they barricaded themselves into their barracks and demanded a lighter labor regimen, the colony administration reported.

Prison officials, prosecutors, the human rights ombudsman of Khakassia, police and the Federal Security Service (FSB) went to the colony.

The Russian Federal Corrections Service issued a statement(translated by The Interpreter):

During the course of six hours of negotiations with the criminals, they were offered various solutions to resolve the situation, and the convicts were guaranteed full observation of their rights and lawful interests. However these convicts refused completely any options offered, demanding a significant weakening of the incarceration regime, which is against the law.

RIA said that prison wardens then conducted a "special operation" to "avoid destabilization," and there were no injuries. Some detentions were made.

Novaya Gazeta reported that 242 inmates were said to take part in the rebellion, according to the Khakassia branch of the Investigative Committee.

Meanwhile, a video began circulating online which shows law-enforcers storming the labor colony.

The film shows riot forces with shields climbing ladders and breaking windows. A fire seems to have broken out, and water is sprayed to douse the flames. According to the text with the video, inmates threw beds and nightstands out the windows and broke down the doors.

Rumors began to circulate that the prisoners were Muslims who were demanding prayer times, and they shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the riot.

The radio Govorit Moskva [Moscow Calling] quoted Anatoly Shadrin, spokesman for the Khakassia branch of FSIN who said the shouts were "only for psychological effect," however, to create "hysteria." He said a prayer room for Muslims had been created in the prison last year but those instigating the riot didn't use it.

Said Govorit Moskva:

In his words, the majority of the prisoners who took part in the mass disorders positioned themselves as Muslims. They demanded to be given the right to perform religious rituals at night time, to smoke in any places, and to freely move around the colony, and also to give them the right not to wear prison tags.

The population of Khakassia is multi-ethnic, and since the Soviet era of Russification, only about 10% are native Khakas, a Turkic people, some of whom practive Shamanism, and of these only about one percent are said to profess Islam.

It is possible that prisoners from other republics of Russia were brought there to serve their sentence.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick