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Hundreds of Russian Prisoners Wound Themselves in Protest

Human rights issues are believed to have brought on the coordinated demonstration.

June 29, 2005|From Reuters

MOSCOW — More than 200 Russian prisoners slashed their wrists, necks or legs Tuesday in a coordinated protest, local media reported.

State television reported that 179 inmates at the Lgov prison camp in the Kursk region, about 300 miles south of Moscow, had sought medical help after wounding themselves.

A human rights group cited unconfirmed information that 500 prisoners had taken part in the protest, while media figures ranged from 240 to 700.

"Most of them cut their wrists or necks," the rights group said in a statement.

The media reports did not spell out what had driven the prisoners to make their protest but mentioned breaches of inmates' rights.

Prisons in Russia are notoriously grim, with cramped conditions and diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV rife.

The country's 767,000-inmate prison population is the third-largest in the world after those in the United States and China.

Interfax news agency quoted the rights group as saying it would send activists to the prison to gather information.

Local prosecutors said the protest had been carefully planned.

"The actions of the convicts were aimed at destabilizing the situation in the camp," Interfax quoted the local prosecutor's office as saying.

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