Saint Petersburg


The main character of our story, Slava, has spent in prison for a total of 17 years. He got his first sentence being a minor. Now the ex-prisoner lives in St.-Petersburg and usually tries not to reminiscent the past. However when Slava found out about our project, he wasn't afraid to tell us about the experience that most of his fellow sufferers leave behind the prison's gates.

The rapist and victim: forced coming out in the pre-trial detention cite

Slava has served for 6 «trips» (Russian slang «hodka» — prison term). The first time he «sat» (was imprisoned) in 1987 «on an early age». However, even before the colony he didn't know what a normal family was. Slava experienced sexual exploitation by his stepfather and his friend.

«(...) He took advantage of me... And when his acquaintance came for a drink to our place, I had to stay with them two. His friend Valera was periodically imprisoned»

Slava subsequently met his rapist in the pre-trial detention cite. That man told him the following:

— You know who you are! Let's not «tikharitsya» (Russian slang means to "hide" from others, don't show off their contacts").

— Yes, I know who I am, — answered Slava and asked the operative officer to separate him, saying that he had previously entered into homosexual relations. Vyacheslav was placed in the cell for the «offended» (it is the same meaning with «petushatnik» in Russian thieves' slang).

«Shkonka» behind a curtain

«In the pre-trial detention centers there are cameras of «offended». There were such times — from 2001 to 2004, for three years — when the «offended» were distributed in all cameras. There was unprofitable to support separate cells, where could be 6 people only, and in normal cells — 10».

«In colonies for adults there were sections of the «offended». In each 100 people group there were just about 20-25 in section. In the barrack-type system (barrack location for 100-150 prisoners) — there were separated places. For example, in the barrack on 300 people «shkonky» (beds) of the «offended» are directly to the right of the entrance and they are separated by a wipe round the clock. Generally a wipe is forbidden, but in this case the prison administration is turning a blind eye to violation».

«People are getting pushed there»: sex for card debt
«During my 17 years in prison, I hardly ever saw cases of violent actions. There were no rapes. Well, I'm 100% assure that every person is sophisticated in something, using his mental abilities. They can arrange the way you won't get away with it. The more sophisticated mind someone has, the more he will achieve.

Besides, people are getting pushed there. Imagine the person for the first or the second time here [in a jail]. Well, what does he know? Nothing. May be superficially. And he knows nothing about gambling (playing cards) unlike those who have got through the dogs and the quicksand (the experienced prisoners) and stayed ten or more years there. Now then, the newcomer (who has been just taken to the camera) is said: «Let's play «prosto tak» (just like that)». The person starts playing «prosto tak», because he thinks it is an ordinary play for fun without any guaranty. Then he loses. The winner says to him: «Well, now you own me». «What do I owe you»? «Prosto tak»! And do you happen to know what the phrase «just like that» means? «Pod prostyn' tak» («under a sheet so») means that you have to become «offended» or a sex slave».

People who have been poured with urine also can become «offended». It is so called «zakontachit'» (make them obey). For example, the person works for the field investigators. Russian thieves' slang – «stuchit» (informs, snitches). Everyone exactly knows that he is «musorskoy» (cooperates with police officers or administration). Well, you can beat him or break his jaw, but what will be changed? Then prisoners take advantage of him, make him agree to participate or keep mouth shut. For this they pour over urine in order to somehow define him to the other status.

Night with a prison warden
There were some nuances. A field investigator M. practically used the «offended». Being on 24 hours duty, after an evening check M. always called «offended». And, of course, if someone wanted, then went to him.

— But what if anyone didn't want to?»

—I haven't heard that anybody could refuse. Someone refused once, so after that he was distributed into the penalty box for 4 months.

Night with a prison warden
«There were some nuances. A field investigator M. practically used the «offended». Being on 24 hours duty, after an evening check M. always called the «offended». And, of course, if someone wanted, then went to him».
— But what if anyone didn't want to?
—I haven't heard that anybody could refuse. Someone refused once, so after that he was distributed into the penalty box for 4 months.
If you want to get information — you have to make carefully a long chain of questions to understand the condition of a person. For example, they perceive coercion for sex not as violence, but as a duty. This is like sex in a family. More than that, if a person uses the services of the «offended», as a rule he behaves with a certain degree more humane than an ordinary prisoner. He can give tea, cigarettes, pay extra attention. Sometimes it happens as a kind of fee for sex servies. They don't complain about, because they understand that they have no other way out. They complain only if there are exceptional reasons for that. They refer to the caste which doesn't speak (about venereal diseases, HIV). Moreover, not everyone has the opportunity to get smuggled condoms.

Leonid Afafnov
Food, tableware and church: what the prison «table of ranks» look likes in everyday life
«People from the cells of «offended» and «muzhiki» (ordinary prisoners) are fed «from the same pot» – get the same food which is transported from cell to cell in a large metal pan on wheels. There are 30 chambers in a «gallery» (long corridor). The «balander» (food distributor) first moves trolley with food to the cells where the «muzhiki» are sitting, and only after that – to the farthest cells of the «offended». Food is no different, it almost never happens a shortfall.

Prison relationships (in the FPS – Federal Penitentiary Service) imply limited opportunities. Of course, you can take cover on a «shkonka» (a bed) behind a curtain or in a washroom. If it is convenient. There are more places [for intimate contacts] in the «zone»: «banya» (a bathhouse), «kaptyorka» (a storage place), «podsobka» (auxiliary room), industrial zone (a place where prisoners work)».

In sells where only the «offended» are, violence is usually higher. It's like the opportunity to chill out. Nobody pays anyone, for example, cigarettes for sex, because all of them have the same status there. Although there are exceptions, and love happens there. The «offended» use separated of others dishware. Even in a prison church during the communion the «offended» are attached to the cross later than others, when others have already kissed the cross.

Leonid Afafnov
Hierarchy of «untouchables» and other prison laws
«For example, there are «working offended» and «nonworking offended» (engaged and not engaged in sex). I can say that 40% of «offended» are «working ones». There is a «harem's pahan» or «glavpetuh» (a chief among the «offended»).

If you are wrong in something, you will be punished twice more than «muzhik» (a man, an ordinary prisoner), and if you are right, they say you are still not right, because you are «offended». It is easier to make guilty the «offended» than the «muzhik» — the «offended» hasn't got a word (can't express their opinion). For example, the «offended» must do washing up and cleaning apart from his desire: I must please his (muzhik's) needs and wishes. Even if it is physical punishment. Really, it's not allowed to beat the «offended», because he is already offended. Nevertheless, there are «bespredelschiki» (violators of unwritten prison laws).

According prison hierarchy, you can't beat the «offended» at all. But if the «offended» has made a mistake: «zakosyachil», «zaburovil» (has done a job on, said something wrong, in the wrong place, at the wrong time) — then yes. But it is not approved practically».

Practice shows: all punishments are built subjectively. It depend on mood. The «offended» should not be beaten by the hand. Usually they are kicked or hit with a stick. A person is ready to accept punishment if someone from the other caste proves that he behaved incorrectly or refused to do something. For example, when he unreasonably refused to carry out a rough work or asked for a large reward for his service. When they are given laundry for washing up, there are no towels and pillowcases among it — noting coming in contact with the face. And what is more – the «offended» do not wash the dishes. If the listed things were touched by outcasts — they can immediately be thrown out or given to their companions in misfortune

Leonid Agafonov
Two stories about love
«Sexual relations between the «offended» occur more often. Not every man can afford a homosexual relationship. During almost half a year in a colony I had sexual contacts with a men. He had an active role with man. It happened in January, after the New Year holidays. He ordered «samogonchik» (homemade strong alcohol drink) for us. It was for the first time with him. I noticed he drank more than necessary to relieve his feelings. Also it is not necessary too much in the zone. But then he took half a liter and drank a lot. And then I realized — he drank so much because wanted me to play an active role. He asked that everything remained between us. After that we met periodically. Не behaived more liberated and we had a mutual relationship. We also met after the prison. In 2007 he fell ill with tuberculosis and died — «burned out» in just four months.

There was the other case. Two people were in their relationship until the term (imprisonment) was over. It was in Uliyanovsk, they had 2 years relationship. One of them was released earlier, but after some times he came to meet his friend. We were all surprised».

The smell of urine: how «the king» became an «offended» and changed the colony
«There was a prisoner named Constantine, his term — 14 years, he served his sentence in Obukhovo. He was «smotryashchiy» (the informal leader of prisoners). He was in a status of the king in prison. He took up a place in a section (a space in the barrack, usually for 20-40 seats). It was a section for 60 beds, but there were only two beds there for him and his approximate, in slang it sounds «shnyrya» (on duty in the barrack). «The king» had «the offended» he used. And once a bathhouse attendant inadvertently went into the washing room, although no one was allowed to come in while Kostya was bathing. They said: «The «smotryashchiy» is taking a bath». So, the bathhouse attendant decided to look into the washing room, saw Kostya in a role of a passive (gay) and reported the «thief crew» (a group of respected criminals). After the bath Kostya and the «offended» were invited into the detachment. The «offended» confirmed: «Yes, I had a relationship and Kostya was in the role of passive». First, Kostya's head was punched and then poured with urine. For the next two years he was taken to a Haaz prison hospital, and after that he was transferred to another colony. There he was in the status of the «offended»».
HIV as a payment for silence
Look, the medical examination is over there. I know about myself and my partner. But casual relations happen. There is a «smotryashchiy» (looking for other prisoners) among the «offended» and everyone can buy a condom. If a condom is found during a «shmon» (inspection), then you have to write a report.
Banning condoms leads to increasing the number of HIV infected people among prisoners. HIV is not detected immediately, while it has not been diagnosed yet. There were cases of mass syphilis infection in the colonies. I talked with a guy. At the age of 18 he he was convicted for robbery. He never had a woman. The first sexual experience he got with the «offended» and it proved unsuccessful. The partner was sick, but no one knew about it. There was a massive syphilis infection — more than 15 people at once. There was no medical sanitary unit (prison hospital), so they were assigned a separate cell in the camera for the punished, where they were treated and kept. This is to the question that people know who they are sleeping with. I think that only prevention can protect people from spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. Sexual relations in prison are an administrative offense. But it's foolish to think that people, who are sitting for 10-15 years in a jail, will completely refuse from close relations. Moreover, most of the prisoners are young men. Unfortunately, the Russian correctional system is not ready for this yet. And it won't be ready in the nearest future. But if we do not start working at this today — it will not be ready even in 30 years. The sex ban generates not only the spread of HIV, but also psychological, psychological deviations of people who are almost every day subjected to sexual violence. In fact, there is a concealment of the crime. The administration never makes public the facts of rape: it spoils reporting. The «offended» don't understand that they are victims in this case and they must have the right to choose. And the official ban on sexual relations again deprives them of the right to vote. The result of this silence is new incidents of violence.

In general, due to the position of the administration, they do not have a distribution between the prisoners: the «offended» have always been, are and will be. When the administration has to influence a man, then they arrange repressive situations. If they want to take advantage of someone (substitute), then it will happen. And they perfectly know that it can happen anywhere and anytime.

If a person goes on a date with an inmate, they leave outside co-called «na glaza» (a watchman, to observe the warders approaching) to protect themselves. If that watchman wasn't attentive and didn't watch the guard so, they are caught. Not the «offended», but the «muzhik» provoked the situation is repressed (punished) more. The strongest punishment for that — 15 days in a penalty cell.

It can affect the grant of parole. Operatives decide — go the parole or not. If a prisoner was noticed in something forbidden, then as before: corruption, extortion. If you want to release on the parole pay.

Leonid Agafonov
Fear to be taken to «petushatnik» increases the detection
There are threats: if you don't write an admission of guilt (confess in a crime), we'll throw you to the cell of the «offended».

«Yes, there is such a thing. Operatives say that a person must be influenced. A person is summoned: either physically affect — this is a so-called «press-hata» (a cell where cooperated with the administration prisoners torture other prisoners for receiving confessions), or may throw into the «offended» cell».

The camera of the «offended» is the first thing they can frighten, especially the «pervohods» (first-timers, who are the first time in prison). This happens not only in the Federal penal correction system (FPCS), but also in the police. Fear of falling into a rogue caste leads to self-incrimination and increasing the number of turnouts — even for crimes that haven't been committed.

Leonid Afafonov
All these fucking people there, shkonki (beds) in three tiers. The first-timer was led to the cell where the «red» (the prisoners who cooperate with the prison administration) were sitting. They had tea with him in the evening, «chifir» (concentrated strong tea), then (...) he was forced «to suck» (engaged in oral sex), and after all he was beaten. The first day came, the first day they fucked him over (sexual violence). He began «to pound» (knock) in the «trough» (the window where they put food), but the guards even didn't open the «trough». Later the thieves (prisoners who monitor the observance of prison traditions) were put there to investigate. Then the «hata» was scattered (the cell was disbanded). But he remained the «offended». He slept on the floor then, he wasn't allowed anywhere. I went to the court with him later. He was asked how and why. They asked me why I didn't stay by him. Well, I slept, and the rest of the cripples were sitting there, and the entire «hata» was «red» (the camera for those who cooperate with the administration, it was created for the safety of those people). So, maybe they could understand, but they were «red», they were working for the cops (policemen, supervisors). No one who would understand there.
The story of the former prisoner Andrey nicknamed «Uzbek»
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