Almost 200 prisoners in the town of Lgov in Russia’s Kursk region have slashed their wrists in protest against the reinstatement of the former prison head, who was dismissed on charges of overseeing brutal beatings by prison authorities, Russia’s Prosecutor General’s office said on Thursday.
“The checks revealed that there were 1,067 prisoners in the penitentiary facility number 3. A total of 200 people who had injured and cut the wrists, applied to the prison’s medical facility. All of them received a medical assistance,” the Prosecutor General’s office said in a statement.
The suicide-attempt protest comes after the former prison head Yury Bushin, who was fired over prisoner beatings in 2005, returned to his post on March 5.
Vladimir Osechkin, the head of human rights web site gulagu.net told the Gazeta.ru news website on Thursday that the prisoners, who testified against Bushin seven years ago, committed a mass suicide attempt as they were afraid he was going to seek revenge.
Valentina Koroteyeva, a relative of one of the prisoners, said that there were “hundreds” of them.
“They hang out blood soaked sheets from the windows and beg not to be abandoned. It’s just horrible to look at. There are about 150 relatives gathered near the prison,” Koroteyeva told Gazeta.ru.
The prison authorities, however, downplayed the problem, saying that “a number of convicts had insignificantly injured themselves in order to disgrace the head of the facility, Yury Bushin.”
“There were no any legally-binding demands from the prisoners. There were no official rejections to food either,” the regional penitentiary service said on its web site.
The penitentiary body also said there were no grounds for concern to prisoners over Bushin’s return.