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New Times Loom for Fabled Lefortovo Prison

Published: June 7, 2005 (Issue # 1076)


MOSCOW - When Lefortovo is removed from the Federal Security Service and, placed like all other penitentiary facilities, under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry, the legend of the much-feared, high-security prison may finally draw to a close.

At Lefortovo, prisoners suffer extreme isolation, and routine prison regulations are followed to a depressing degree. But this also can make time spent there more tolerable, former inmates say.

"I feel a strange pity for the place. After the FSB gives it away, the super-orderly Lefortovo will turn into a regular stinking jail," said writer Eduard Limonov, who spent 15 months in Lefortovo in 2002 and 2003 as the FSB investigated his radical National Bolshevik Party.

Justice Minister Yury Chaika announced at a meeting with the Council of Europe's commissioner on human rights, Alvaro Gil-Robles, in late May that his ministry would be taking over Lefortovo and other penal facilities that have remained with the FSB.

The transfer was a condition for Russia's admission in 1996 to the Council of Europe, which demanded that Russia separate investigating agencies from detention facilities where inmates could be subject to pressure from investigators. The Interior Ministry transferred its prisons and other penitentiary facilities to the Justice Ministry in 1998.

"The one who is trying to prove your guilt is the one who is keeping you. He is also the one who eavesdrops on you and collects compromising material on you 24 hours a day," lawyer and human rights activist Karina Moskalenko told Gazeta.ru last week, saying that such practices violate the concept of a lawful state.

A spokesman for the FSB, Alexander Murashov, said the transfer of Lefortovo to the Justice Ministry would be done gradually and no deadline was imposed for its completion. Whether Lefortovo changes, will depend upon whether the prison personnel stay after the transfer is complete.

"Regulations are all the same at any prison, but we manage to keep Lefortovo as a model facility, not like any other Russian prison," he said.

Murashov denied a request to speak with prison personnel or visit the prison.

Hidden behind a high fence crowned by concertina wire, Lefortovo's three-story building of yellow brick, shaped like a giant K if seen from above, has held many of the country's most famous prisoners, from political dissidents of the Soviet era to suspected spies of more recent years.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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