Outcasts-2. Broken people

Topic of no discussion. We present an investigation about sexual abuse in Russian prisons

This project focuses on sexual violence in Russian prisons. Currently, there are about 500,000 men in detention cites.

The first time we started talking about the situation of "Offended" in the insulators and colonies of our country last year. Initiative "Woman. Prison. Society" published the projects "Outcasts" and "Love is forbidden" about homosexual relationships in the penitentiaries.

In the current investigation we want to pay attention to the problem of sexual violence in colonies and detention cites and the situation of sexual violence victims...

No-go video: The "Offended" Ivan

In this video a prisoner ("Offended") of one of the Murmansk colonies tells about sexual violence he has been subjected many times. The author of the project "Woman. Prison. Society", human rights activist Leonid Agafonov suggests that the video was shooting by one of the prisoners, also from the "Offended" caste.
"I was put on a bottle ... Оn a plastic one. With disinfecting solution…"
CC-18, Murmanskaya oblast
‒ How many "Offended" are there in the colony?
‒ I don't know exactly, about 30 people…

‒ Well, there are different "Offended": lowered, raped, forced… Did they make you?
‒ Yes.

‒ How many times has it been?
‒ I don't remember.

‒ More than five times, ten times?
‒ Yes. They beat me with a stick, then they stuck a stick in my ass. One stick was broken on me. They sat me on a bottle…

‒ What kind of bottle?
‒ Plastic one. With disinfecting solution. You know, with a blue cap.
Full transcript of the conversation with the prisoner

‒ What's your name?

‒ My full name is Ivan Alexandrovich, L***n Ivan Alexandrovich.

‒ When were you born?

‒ On the 11th of November 1983.

‒ Where do you serve your sentence?

‒ In the correctional colony №18.

‒ Are you willing to make a video?

‒ Yes.

‒ To tell how you live for a camera.

‒ Yes.

‒ How long have you already been here?

‒ For 5 years.

‒ Who are you in this colony?

‒ "Offended".

‒ Do they all (the administration, the head of the colony, the educators) know that you are the "offended"?

‒ Yes.

‒ And what does the word "offended" mean? Explain it in a normal way.

‒ Well, pidaras. But pidaras sounds rude. Omitted person.

‒ Various of offended: omitted; raped; forced. Did they make you?

‒ Yes.

‒ How many times has it been?

‒ I don't remember.

‒ More than five times, ten times?

‒ Yes.

‒ There were acts of violence, right?

‒ Yes. When I came.

‒ When you arrived... In quarantine? Have you been raped by a different men‒status against your will?

‒ Yes.

‒ They forced you, threatened or just scared? How did that happen? Tell me.

‒ Threaten: "If you tell the cops ‒ you are fucked".

‒ And what else was in quarantine? Remember, you told me that they mocked you somehow.

‒ They mocked me differently.

‒ There was the case in quarantine... What year was it? Something is connected with the stick...

‒ It was 2014 when I arrived.

‒ Well, tell me, what was there?...

‒ They beat me with a stick, then they stuck a stick in my ass. One stick was broken on me. They sat me on a bottle…

‒ What kind of bottle?

‒ Plastic one. With disinfecting solution. You know, with a blue cap.

‒ And who did that? Do you know the names of those convicts?

‒ No, I don't know the names.

‒ And who was a quartermaster in quarantine?

‒ The quartermaster was K***v Dima.

‒ That one who is now, right? K***v Dima? Does he know everything about it, too?

‒ Yes. But he wasn't present, because he was at the barrack.

‒ Clear. And others? Who raped you? What else were you forced to do?

‒ I don't remember anymore.

‒ Were there any other violent acts?

‒ No.

‒ With men. Don't be afraid, speak.

‒ With one man was by mutual agreement.

‒ With one was by agreement, the other incidents were against your will, right?

‒ Yes.

‒ May you come into the kitchen?

‒ No.

‒ Are you separated, like all offended? Tell me about this system.

‒ We can't go into the kitchen. Once I came in, the stool almost flew into my head...

‒ How is cleaning in units and other places going on?

‒ Cleaner is I. I clean, I get paid. Half the time, not always...

‒ What is paid?

‒ If they can: cigarettes, tea, coffee...

‒ What are you cleaning?

‒ Toilets, sinks, sections...

‒ And where else do you work for cigarettes?

‒ In the headquarters I work.

‒ Where else?

‒ And in quarantine.

‒ Do you clean the toilets, everything there?

‒ Yes.

‒ Do other convicts clean on schedule?

‒ No.

‒ But how are you allowed to get to quarantine for cleaning? There's the head of the unit, the administration. Do they know that you are cleaning up instead of all those convicted?

‒ Yes.

‒ That is, employees of the administration allow you to quarantine to clean there instead of other convicts?

‒ Yes. They don't clean, don't want. There are all "thieves" and like them...

‒ "Thieves" are in the colony, they know it. And the administration?

‒ Yes.

‒ Would you like the offended had a separate detachment?

‒ Yes, of course.

‒ Because with the "men" you can't eat, nothing can do. What is the number of "offended" in the colony?

‒ I don't know exactly, about 30 people…

‒ You know about 30 people.

‒ Yes.

‒ Do they all do cleaning (for other convicts)?

‒ No, some of them do cleaning, others don't do. For health reasons.

‒ Does the head of the colony knows that there are "offended"?

‒ Yes.

‒ That's par for the course, right?

‒ Yes.

‒ How does the administration control the offended, so that they clean?

‒ The administration does not force them, the the quartermaster of the unit forces.

‒ Is there anyone else besides the quartermaster?

‒ There is an assistant of the quartermaster, by them.

‒ Do they control, influence the rest of the convicts?

‒ Yes.

‒ And thieves?

‒ Yes.

‒ Thieves used to beat you. What about now?

‒ But not now.

‒ It's a bit better now, isn't it?

‒ Yes.

‒ Well, okay, do you know that the video will be sent to the Public Oversight Commission? Not online. Don't worry, this is for the rights of convicts. Do you want to add anything else?

‒ I want to be treated better.

‒ What else?

‒ About my case.

‒ The case according your apartment?

‒ Yes, I sold it for nothing. For 100 000 rubles.

‒ They "helped" you to sell, tricked you ... And did you see that money?

‒ No.

‒ Where did the money go?

‒ I drank with the person I was selling my flat. It was at large. In 2010.

‒ So you are sitting here… You just want to be respected.

Do they make you do washing up at night?

‒ Yes. They sometimes pay, sometimes don't pay...

‒ I know you clean at night, don't sleep at night.

‒ Well, now it's fine, I sleep.

‒ And before that you didn't sleep. Are you cleaning the headquarters alone, all two floors?

‒ Yes.

‒ What are you cleaning there?

‒ Toilets, galley, offices, the whole long corridor.

‒ And do you clean the snow outside?

I saw you at 6 a.m. When do you wake up?

‒ At 4.30 a.m.

‒ And break the ice?

‒ Yes.

‒ Did the head of the colony Klimov often see you cleaning and breaking the ice?

‒ Yes.

‒ Often saw. And the deputy head of the colony for security and operational work saw?

‒ Yes, everybody.

‒ Major I***v Alexander Alexandrovich?

‒ Yes.

‒ And they said nothing? Do they know that you are the "offended", that you are cleaning every day?

‒ Yes.

‒ Do you get paid for this?

‒ No.

‒ Are you paid a salary?

‒ No.

‒ How long have you been cleaning headquarters?

‒ Half a year.

‒ Have you never been paid money?

‒ No.

‒ Has the head of the colony ever paid attention? Has he offered the support?

‒ No.

‒ Do they just pass by without paying attention to you?

‒ How many times a day do you go there to clean?

‒ Every day. Three times a day: in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening.

"The 'Offended' can't go to a safe place, he is always under observation, under pressure"
Prison expert Leonid Agafonov:

"This video is unique. Firstly, this is due to the fact that telephones in the colonies and remand centres are prohibited. Secondly, the fact of the story of the outrage says that the victim is not able to keep silent any more. Cases of sexual violence in the penitentiaries ‒ a frequent phenomenon. Such crimes are being hidden, hidden for years. Everyone knows that it is, but no one speaks about it out loud.

Mainly breaking (psychological; suppressing a person's will. ‒ Ed.) occurs when a prisoner arrives at a colony. So-called "acceptance stage": a prisoner is treated cruelly in order to "put into operation".

The act of violence this man talks about has occurred in quarantine. It means the rapists cooperated with the administration, because no one but the colony employees could let them in there. The other victims refuse talking about sexual coercion. This reflects the fact that they are intimidated by both the administration and the cons. They are broken people who cannot resist the "machine" (the penitentiary system), so they are forced to receive additional kicks from other prisoners and from the colony administration.

Discussing this topic, you need to understand that the "Offended" can't avoid violence. Largely this kind of a man is defenseless. In Norwegian prisons are arranged according to the hostel principle. Some prisoners even have separate rooms where they can retire. In such circumstances, it is difficult to imagine a situation where at night a prisoner is knocking at the door to have sex. Prisoners have no personal space at all in the Russian penitentiaries. In the barracks there can be 100-150 people, and someone has always some needs.

The "Offended" can't go to a safe place, he is always under observation, under pressure. They can just walk up to him, kick him and say: "Let's go to the toilet, let's catch up...". Nobody cares if the offended wants to sleep, whether he ever sleeps or not. The hero of the video gets up at 4.30, goes to clean the premises, works all day long, then... he is raped. For a prisoner it is always easier to take a work for a pack of cigarettes than tolerate such mockery till morning. And where will he go at night to complain that someone is forcing him?"
According to our data, the list of prisoners who were subjected to violence in that colony was more than 10 people, but all of them refused to confirm that they were forced for sex. The project "Woman. Prison. Society" is aware that this video is in the hands of the Federal Penitentiary Service employees, but what is happening in Correctional Colony №18 of the Murmansk region hasn't been still returned into the legal fold. Anyway, we are not aware of such actions.

A member of the PMC who visited this prisoner wished to remain anonymous. He told us that the hero of the video confirmed the fact of violence. But in the opinion of the prisoner, he got what he deserved, because he was convicted under the "bad article" (crime against sexual inviolability). The victim has no complaints against his rapists. The observer added that the prisoner looked extremely exhausted.
Psychologist and speech therapist, co-founder of the movement "Psychology for Human Rights" Kirill Fyodorov comments:

"It might be some kind of self assurance or self adjustment to what actually happened. People are mirroring surrounding atmosphere, where they're convinced that one is deserved that and there's no surprise. You accept the rules until the end of your term. It's difficult to separate external reasons from internal."
We believe that turning the topic to the public fold can stop the violence in Russian prisons. On behalf of the project "Woman. Prison. Society" we appeal to the Prosecutor's Office and the Investigative Committee with a request to undertake an investigation of informational nature of violence in the correctional colony №18 of the Murmansk region. We also hope that the International Human Rights Community will pay attention to this problem.
"To my mind, there is no reason to doubt the veracity of this testimony"
Lawyer Ksenia Mikhailova:

"It seems to me the person on the video is not gushing. Quite the contrary, he is laconic. It is clear that he is difficult to speak. Therefore, I don't think that he is making something up. He answers leading questions and details his story. Then, without further help from the interlocutor, he tells about it in detail: how it happened, where, when. He even remembers the contents of the bottle and the color of the bottle cap. To my mind, there is no reason to doubt the veracity of this testimony."

Ksenia Mikhailova, the advocate of "Coming Out," believes that in such cases the inaction of the penitentiary's administration lies out of the legal field, and it is obvious. But it is very difficult to help such people:

"While lawyers are taking necessary legal steps, there are no guarantees that the person won't be harmed. It is clear, if a prisoner reports being in unsafe conditions, he should be placed in some safe conditions under the Criminal Executive Code article. But then the administration must find out what happened, establish the facts and initiate proceedings under Art. 132 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (violent acts of a sexual nature. ‒ Ed.). Criminal proceedings will not be conducted, because it breaks the entire system, the entire hierarchy that officials control and often support. People don't see the point in protecting their rights there.

According to Article 132, it is generally difficult to conduct some kind of investigation, especially if it happened in a colony, where no one ever says anything, fearing for their safety. Even at large it is difficult to prove. And here we have a case of violence which may have happened several years ago in a closed institution.

The man fell into the status of "Offended. Maybe physical violence won't repeat, but so-called "voluntary" contacts are repeating: they require proximity from a person. Fearing for his safety, he obeys. After several years, it is almost impossible to investigate."
"It is difficult for a person to tell not that publicly, but his relatives about the other side of his life and about his pain"
Psychologist Kirill Fyodorov speaks about another factor that makes prisoners, who have experienced sexual violence, remain silent:

"It's hard for a person to talk about some of his vulnerabilities. It may simply be a failure, for example, a failed exam. It may be the loss of human dignity due to sexual abuse. The prisoner in the video is very difficult to talk about his experience. Survivors of sexual abuse often have a total sense of shame. Shame is a bright emotion that is accompanied by thoughts: "I am wrong in principle", "I deserve what happened to me", "this doesn't happen to good people", "this doesn't happen to normal men, they are not raped". Therefore, it is difficult for a person to tell not that publicly, but his relatives about the other side of his life and about his pain."
"Health effects can be very different, ranging from anal fissures to rupture of the intestinal mucosa and anal sphincter. Trauma to the mucous membrane can sometimes lead to purulent complications..."
Speaking about violence in penitentiaries, we pay attention to several aspects: the psychological state of the prisoner, the question of punishing perpetrators of violence and those who had allowed the situation to occur. Another side is the implications for a prisoner's health who has become a victim of violence and didn't get timely medical services.
Medical expert Ksenia Barkhatova (with the participation of an additional expert opinion of the proctologist):

"Health effects can be very different, ranging from anal fissures to rupture of the intestinal mucosa and anal sphincter. Trauma to the mucous membrane can sometimes lead to purulent complications. Anal intercourse is very often injured soft tissue of the rectum. Micro-ruptures and microcracks contribute to the penetration of contaminants and microbes into the bloodstream and this can lead to infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, shigellosis, giardiasis and others. It also leads to the spread of diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted infections. Cystitis and urethritis are also possible due to microflora from the intestine entering the bladder and urinary canal.

Purulent complications and ruptures of the sphincter and the walls of the rectum as well as other injuries are possible. Such complications require the use of drugs in the form of suppositories, ointments, baths, micro-clysters, drugs to relieve pain, physiotherapy and exercise therapy, antiseptic hygiene and antibiotic prophylaxis, and, if necessary, procto-surgical intervention."
"We can conduct a forensic examination, confirming that there was indication of homosexual intercourse with the said person"
Is there anything we can do? Lawyer Ksenia Mikhailova speaks:

"What can we theoretically prove? We can conduct a forensic examination, confirming that there was indication of homosexual intercourse with the said person. If it was a one-time event and long ago, it will be almost impossible to prove something. The forensic examiner is able to determine if the act is reproduced violently or non-violently. But he most likely can't make a clear conclusion. This will require the testimony of the victim and those people who saw it, if they are. If he was beaten with a stick, then injuries could have remained from that time, so then it would be possible to prove that they sustained during the period of his stay in the colony. Then it could constitute a basis for instituting procedure to ascertain the accountability of the administration.

Even if it is impossible to identify the people who did that, there is reason to talk about the improper fulfilment of their obligations by colony staff (FPS. ‒ Ed.). Who exactly made the negligence can be restored, for example, from the duty's notes."
Medical expert Ksenia Barkhatova notes that there is a methodology for conducting a forensic medical examination, which was previously secured by the Order of the Health Ministry of the Russian Federation No. 161 of April 24, 2003 (now it is canceled).
Medical expert Ksenia Barkhatova:

"Examination should be carried out within 1 day after sexual intercourse, since traces of an active partner (discharge, sperm) will disappear. With regards to the rest of the tracks, they persist much longer, such as anal fissures, irritation of the rectal mucosa, cicatricial traces and they can be fixed within 1-2 months after anal contact.

The fact of sexual violence on the basis of specific features can be established by a forensic expert, relying on the results of an external examination and basic examinations of the proctologist, and in his absence ‒ by a surgeon. The proctologist in this case can carry out an external examination of the anus, digital examination of the rectum, anoscopy."
"Violence is a tool to intimidate prisoners: 'If you behave inadequately, you can also be subjected to such kind of humiliation"
Prison expert Leonid Agafonov:

"If a prisoner reports a case of violence, he may be put in a safe place. But he is intimidated, he has seen that, most likely, those prisoners collaborated with the administration. And he could view all these humiliations as a punishment upon orders of the administration. This is one of the reasons why people keep silent. They are sure that their complaints will not come out of the penitentiary. And the administration will never allow any complaints to appear outside the colony.

This fear has quite clear explanation. First, a crime committed in a penitentiary affects the statistics. It is quite obvious: the administration is of little benefit for such a case to be known. Secondly, violence is a tool to intimidate prisoners: "If you behave inadequately, you can also be subjected to such kind of humiliation". Hardly anyone intervenes, at best, the administration itself transfers the problem prisoner."
The Istanbul Protocol makes recommendations how to work with violence victims in penitentiaries. The full text of the Istanbul Protocol you can read here.

All international acts are referred to as "soft law", and everything depends on the willingness of states to use these recommendations.
Recently in the Court of Yekaterinburg criminal proceedings were conducted against the former deputy chief of the correctional colony №54 of the Sverdlovsk region, where prisoners were tortured and raped. The court sentenced Rafik Zinatullin to 8 years 6 months in a penal colony.
He was named Lana
Sasha is in a colony now, he is serving the second term. The first time he went to prison for theft at the age of 19. He served a sentence in Komi. Total prison experience ‒ 10 years.

Sasha doesn't want to tell which place he is in. He's afraid. He is released this year, in June. The FPS will buy him tickets to Moscow, but then our hero has nowhere to go, only to a friend named Alice (also from the "Offended" caste), who he met during the first "turn".
A pastiche (a stylization) of Alexander's photo
Telephones are prohibited in the zone, but prisoners surf the Internet, risking that the "forbidden device" will be taken away any time. So, Sasha told us his story on social networks. The interview lasted for several months, so we learned a little about the life of "Offended" in detention cites. Sasha is openly gay, that is what determined his position in the caste system of Russian prisons forever.

He is the "Offended". It seems to be the lowest caste in the penitentiaries, but among these people there are even more humiliated ‒ open gays, who, one way or another, declare their orientation openly. With the story of Alexander, we want to say that in Russian prisons there are several rounds of discrimination and violence, which are firmly connected with each other and the entire penitentiaries of Russia.
"I am the lowest…"
‒ How have your cellmates known you're a gay?
‒ It was the first term. I was 19. I told at once that I am a gay. When I was brought to the detention site, I asked the operatives for a talk. They talked to me, then I went to the "petushatnya" (the place for fags. ‒ Ed.), so that there were no problems. I'm with the guys since high school. If someone had found out that I didn't say (about my orientation. ‒ Ed.), they would have killed me.

‒ When did you have the first sex in the detention site?
‒The first night in prison, in "petushatnya".

‒ Was it consensual? Did you use a condom?
‒ So what else can I do? No, of course without. However, "Thieves" are impossible to say no. At night (cellmate. ‒ Ed.) he called me up, hung up the sheets, then he made me strip. I had a thong on... So, in a thong, he showed me off in front of others and told everyone who I was… I am the lowest that is. I have my personal tableware, even the "Offended" hesitate to resort me... Before fucking me, he showed me naked to everyone, just in a thong.
I am a fagot who loves (have sex. ‒ Ed.) men, I am the fallest guy among the "Offended".
Prison expert Leonid Agafonov:

"Discussing the topic of the "offended", we are faced with the opinion that prisoners with low social status need to be isolated in separate units. But after a while, their own hierarchy appears in these closed groups. Separation will not help to solve this problem. It is necessary to change the system."
Psychologist Kirill Fyodorov:

"This is the question of certain compensation, I guess. If I am supressed and dominated I will also find someone to stifle in order to overcome my self-esteem and importance. This is the way of coping with your low hierarchy position. Sexual violence is one of the most traumatic life events for a man. Not everyone could somehow reflect this experience with a healthy, healing attitude.

This cause a lot of stress and anxiety, shame and guilt. There are researches showing the connection between shame and aggression. Especially men that doubt their masculinity and feel ashamed about this become aggressive to prove, primarily for themselves, that they are real "men": hit the next guy walking by, yell at wife. People like this find more vulnerable person and begin to pour everything out, their enormous reservoir of negative emotions, and in this particular case ‒ the whole ocean of emotions."
"Personal fag"
‒ When I first came to the zone (correctional colony. ‒ Ed.), I was explained the rules of the "Offended cell", it is like a registration. Everyone plays cards... So I lost 800 thousand rubles to "Glavpetuh" named Alice. As I owe him, I have become his personal fag. Even now I cannot write without his permission ... (Alice is at large. ‒ Ed.).

‒ Who is "Glavpetuh"?
‒ A criminal, who is known well. All the rest are sensitive to his views. He is someone who people come to settle a quarrel, etc. Only "Offended" make their decision about who can become the head of the "Offended". If it is a "Red Zone", the administration appoints him.

‒ Does he get a share if other "offended" work, clean or provide other services?
‒ Of course. Cigarettes are brought to him, tea... "Glavpetuh" is managing then: what, where, who to.

‒ That is, he has such a mini-commissary account?
‒ Yes. he has.

‒ Can "Glavpetuh" rent out someone from the "Offended"? For cleaning, for example?
‒ Yes. When quartermasters turn to him, he decides.

‒ And sex services?
‒ And sex services, frankly. But I'm supervised personally by Alice, no one more, even being at large.

‒ Do you have sex prices?
‒ For oral sex, if agreed with thieves, about a couple packs of cigarettes, or a packet of tea. Take what you can get. Basically, they cheat: promise but don't give. - They call you to the supply room and you have to "work" all night...
Prison expert Leonid Agafonov:

"Sex-price depends on the regime, the colony distance and the individual. But it should always be considered as a payment for violence, and not as a payment for a service. A person is still forced, but sometimes they try to pay off."
Screenshot of written correspondence with Alexander
"Suffered for their big mouths"
How did the other prisoners get into the "cock-cock"?
Most of them suffered for their big mouths... They confessed that they licked girls' pis (did cunnilingus. ‒ Ed.). In the camera they told about it, suspecting nothing. "Offended" are divided into "workers" and "non-workers". A "worker" who is fucking and sucking, and a "non-working" person is someone who got into the "petushatnya" for his words, he doesn't fuck.
If another prisoner offers sex to a "non-working" "Offended", can he refuse?
Yes, he can, but... If they want to, they seem to be wearing him down. If no, they will beat him, really (sometimes hard), and then they might back off.
Are there a lot of open gays in the colony?
No, very little. Almost nobody. Generally, they are afraid to talk about it.
Do the "Offended" know that there are some organizations which are fighting for LGBT rights, gay rights?
They don't trust anyone here. It wouldn't be better for them here from these organizations.
"They are being abusive to me"
‒ What kind of work do the "Offended" usually do?
‒ They wash the floor in the detachment, the toilets... I work in the bath house. I wash the floor there, I wash clothes. This work is not permanent. I have enough free time. The bath house doesn't work on weekends, but a week has begun, so today I have a lot to do.

‒ Are you tired?
‒ Yes, I have done a lot of laundry today (the "Offended" serve as servants for other prisoners. ‒ Ed.).

‒ Hand wash? What about laundry detergent?
‒ Yes, hand wash. Of course, those give laundry detergent who leave their clothes for washing.

‒ Your hands probably hurt, don't they?
‒ I've already got used to it, I use a hand cream. Mostly small things are given to be washed: panties, socks, T-shirts...

Alexander is being paid 500 rubles (about 7 euros) a month for his work. Payments come into his shop card.

‒ Do you eat, have tea separately from other prisoners?
‒ Yes, we have separate tables in the canteen. More than that, my place is separate from the "Roosters". So they are being abusive to me, as I am a cocksucker. I live separately from others. There are 80 people in the detachment, five of us are the "Roosters", I am the only "Worker" among them.
"Such humiliating pictures... They think I don't care"
Sasha is the hero of posts in groups for prisoners in social networks.

- I'm used to it (to popularity in social networks. ‒ Ed.). They have been writing about me in groups for a long time. Photos are such degrading... They think I don't care. We are nobody here. Our opinion doesn't exist for anyone here.
Prison expert Leonid Agafonov:

"Look through the social network and find special groups for prisoners and those who are interested in how many visual materials there are related to sex in prison. You can buy them for money or pay for participation in the group where they are posted. Of course, not all videos and photographs are related to penitentiaries, but among the content there may be recordings with the participation of real "Offenders" who become victims of violence and involvement into the production of pornography and prostitution."
Handmade condoms
‒ I'm tired today. There was general cleaning in the bath. The floor, the walls and everything that is possible. I have washed everything.

‒ Are there any gloves there?
‒ There are. But I hide them so we can make condoms right away. Everything goes instead of condoms, just to... Even plastic bags.

‒ Do you think it can save?
‒ Yes, a bit at least.

‒ Do I understand correctly that condoms are prohibited in the zones?
‒ Yes, but they bring after long visits.

‒ And gay sex is also forbidden…
‒ Yes, it is.

‒ Has anybody ever been caught? And what is the punishment for it?
‒ Imprison into a punishment cell. Catch infrequently. Where there are separate rooms: workers room, for example, even in toilets…

‒ What can be the consequences for the prisoner?
‒ May lose parole. This is a violation. If they call someone to the commission, he is given a penalty. But they will write that it is for smoking in the wrong place.
Screenshot of written correspondence with Alexander
Prison expert Leonid Agafonov:

"Of course, this system affects the HIV situation in the penitentiaries: 10% of the male prisoners in Russia is HIV-positive. It is impossible to identify how many of them got HIV due to sex relations, how many because of injections, who got a positive status at large and in detention cites. The administration always says that obtaining positive HIV status is not related to the institution. The only way to find out that a person received HIV while serving a sentence is when he is in the colony for a long time and he is diagnosed with HIV while serving a sentence."
Prison castes
‒ Please write a few words about which castes / groups the prisoners are divided into?
‒ The "Thieves" are the highest caste; they also look after the zone or prison. Then there are the "Men" who do not "blat" (don't strive to become "Thieves". ‒ Ed.): they live, they work.

Then the "Devils" come ‒ those who "snorit" (or "snoop" ‒ they provide minor services, do household chores): make tea, wash the dishes. Then the "Red" ones - those who are in positions: cons, administration assistants.

Then we go, "Roosters". Just there are those who are getting pushed to us due to outrage, they are mostly "Thieves" here.

I am very grateful that you treat us well and pay attention to us.

‒ Do you think that this system can be eradicated?
‒ Somehow it is necessary to equalize the rights for everyone, but I don't know how...

‒ Do you think it is necessary to exclude voluntary sex as a violation from the Code of Criminal Procedure (Criminal Procedure Code. ‒ Ed.)?
‒ Wow. I'll be the first to vote. And allow condoms required.

Prison expert Leonid Agafonov:

"This is a view of our hero, a vision of a person who is inside the system. In fact, the main in prison are three castes: "Men", "Thieves" and "Offended". All of the above groups, with the exception of "Offended", are mobile. A "Red" ceases to be the "Red" and goes to the "Workers ("Men") or can become the "Offended". With "Devils" the same story: the starts to wash, takes care of himself and becomes a "Men". It does not change his status. A prisoner who is "Offended" cannot rise above his caste. He was "Offended" yesterday, he is "Offended" today and he will be "Offended" tomorrow. And a "Devil" can wash himself and become a "supply manager" or a "worker" ('Man')."
"I dream to have breasts"
‒ I'm dreaming of a chest, if frankly.

‒ And what size do you want?
‒ The second. Maybe the first. I miss women's things, I have got only mascara here. I would like panties, stockings... I feel like a girl, I take care of myself. I always shave my legs.

I had things here, but the administration took everything away, it is not allowed. I suffer a lot without female things. At least underwear... Here is an old photo when I had things. This is me at work in the bath house.

‒ How did you manage to bring female things to the colony?
‒ After an extended visit. They brought me things, not for free, of course...

‒ Do you do manicure?
‒ No, I have nothing for a manicure here. I would do, of course.

‒ Is there no barber at the bath house?
‒ There is a barber, but... As simply as that?! Nobody will do it. Just give a hint and they might tease me about that!..
"Nickname with the intent"
‒ Do you have a nickname?
‒ Lana. Alice gave me this name. If read Alice from right to left, it gets "anal". To tell the truth, I also like it. Here they give nicknames with the intent.

‒ What are the others "Offended" nicknames?
‒ I can't tell about them.
Alexander (Lana) will be released in June. He wants to sunbathe in a thong on the beach. He hopes that Alice will accept him and help him get settled first.

51 offensive expressions addressed to prisoners

This is a video from the colony in Vladimirskaya oblast (checked and corrected, was the Leningrad region). Video was shot in 2007. It is published on the Internet under the heading "Establishing a regime". This video caught our attention.

This passage of 5 minutes 41 seconds contains 51 offensive expressions that are addressed to prisoners by the staff of the colony. 12 expletives have offensive sexual overtones or are related to sexual orientation. Thus, every 7 seconds derogatory words from FPS officers are addressed to prisoners.
Decoding what is happening in the video, you can read here:

- So, go out, it! Run to the wall! Duty, run here, fucking sods!
- Closer! There you go! Fucking freaks! I can't see your hands!
- Money, drugs, jewels?
- What's this? I don't get it!
- D'you want me put it on your head? ‒ (An employee of the colony puts a foot rag on the head of a prisoner. Foot wrap is a piece of cotton fabric, which is wound on the leg instead of socks. The prisoner hasn't had enough time to wrap a rag on his leg, so a warder puts it on his head. ‒ Ed.)

- The second go! The third!
- Hop! Hop! Hop!
- Let me film a walk!
- Filmmaker! (laughter. ‒- Ed.)
- Put down collars, fucking sods, bitches!
- Hands down, collars down!
- Hands behind your back! .... Fucking!
- Face to the floor! No one looks in the faces!
-Can you run?! Quick, damn it! Fucking suckers! So, acceleration! Fucking faggots!

(Constantly repeated sexual abuse. ‒ Ed.)
- Start counting the laps! Well done, bitch!
- You are running until the motherfucker will wash the floor. Fuck you!

- Do you understand? Tomorrow you will be on duty. Is it clear, fags? You will be here to fuck, bitch!

- Stand up! Stand up! Stand up! Squat down! Put your hands behind your heads and walk in a goose step! Go around the circle!
So, we continue.
He says, "You continue".
Everyone does a deer! Do the deer, fucking sods!

(Do a deer ‒ to wobble squatting, having their hands pressed against their heads with spread fingers. ‒ Ed.)
- Spread fingers!
(One of prisoners feels bad. ‒ Ed.)

- Why have the others stopped?! Continue moving! I don't see your hands, I don't see your hands! Bitch!
- All done! Stand up! Throw away your gag! Fucking fags!
Prison expert Leonid Agafonov:

"I noticed this video for the following reasons:

First, it was filmed either by the employees themselves or with their permission. I don't know the reason. Maybe it is done for intimidation, for internal use or for superiors. Such footage will never be allowed to shoot just like that.

Secondly, the prison staff treat a group of prisoners as "Offended". They call them rudely. We cannot be 100 % sure which caste the seven people belong to. All of them are from the punishment cell. As seen in the footage, they run in a circle, show "deer" (show "a deer" ‒ to wobble squatting, having hands pressed against the heads with spread fingers). Generally, there is no such procedure for punishment cell prisoners to do such an exercise. It is difficult to say why prison staff made prisoners to do this, but I assume that as an additional measure of humiliation. One prisoner was not able to walk like that.

One thing I can confidently predict: the colony staff wouldn't behave like that with ordinary prisoners. In general, the staff of the colony should have been dismissed for such an attitude towards prisoners, including for insults. Prisoners are people, whatever they are. They have already been condemned, so why humiliate them further? In order to release the criminals who believe in nothing?"
From the videos and interviews it seems that the entire penitentiary system, from prisoners to employees, is permeated by caste beliefs and violence. But after all, we believe that it can be changed and should be changed. Decisions on specific cases of violence in the penitentiary system should begin to change the whole system: perpetrators of violence should be punished, rapists should be convicted, officials should be held responsible and lose their jobs, victims of violence should be placed in a safe place and get the necessary help.
Coordinator of the Alliance of Heterosexuals and LGBT for Equality (Russia) Alexei Sergeev:

"We can see that open gay and bisexual people are in the back of prison hierarchy, even among their caste representatives. The system doesn't give them any chances to get out of there. The dirtiest work, disempowerment, humiliation and regular sexual abuse are everyday realities for tens of thousands of people.

Unfortunately, human rights organizations which help prisoners ran into the firewall put up by the Penal system. Considering overall homophobic course, the obstacles are even more for LGBT organizations. For changes, the FPS has to become more open and transparent, no longer treat the representatives of civil society as enemies. For torture, humiliation, sexual abuse must be established personal inevitable responsibility.

The penitentiary definitely contributes to the general homophobia of Russian society: based on lack of rights, humiliation and violence towards LGBT people, it is broadcasting at large. That's why, there is a large space for activist work: in the field of conveying the truth about what is happening in prisons; educating society; protecting human rights, rehabilitating ex-prisoners."
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Authors and partners
Leonid Agafonov, Natalia Donskova

design: Alexey Sergeev, illustrations: Maria Svyatykh, translation and editing: Marina Kvashnina, support in social networks: Natalia Sivokhina, working with text: Lydia Simakova, analysis: Ernest Mezak ("Public Verdict"), Alexey Sergeev

Norwegian Helsinki Committee, "7 * 7 - Horizontal Russia", Russian LGBT Network, Human Rights Network "Tak-Tak-Tak", "Greenhouse of Social Technologies", Front Line Defenders, "Shelter City Tbilisi", Alliance of Heterosexuals and LGBT for Equality (Russia).

Tatiana Dorutina, Tatiana Vinnichenko; employees of the program "Shelter City Tbilisi" Sali Mezurnishvili, Svitlanu Valko
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