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Prisoners a secret weapon deployed to beat Western sanctions and boost economy

By Kate Baklitskaya
30 October 2014

Inmate making substitutes for imported goods will see penal colonies produce output worth 500 million roubles.

This year we increased the production of goods to 40 million Roubles ($956,000) in only four months. Picture: Vladnews

Prisoners in the Russian Far East are being put to work in the national campaign to produce goods hit by sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. Paid a salary of 195 roubles a day ($4.50), the inmates are making vital commodities - including agricultural products, food, and furniture - to substitute imported items.

In the first nine months of this year alone, the total output produced by correctional institutions amounted to a 217 million roubles ($5.14 million). And, according to the Federal Penitentiary Service, this will increase to 500 million roubles next year ($11.93 million).

Oleg Simchenko, the head of the service in Primorskyi Krai, said the programme has given convicts new opportunities for economic development. At a press conference in Vladivostok, he said: 'This year we increased the production of goods to 40 million Roubles ($956,000) in only four months.'

Primorskyi Krai has four general penal colonies for prisoners, six strict regime colonies, five colonies-settlements, one special regime colony, and five detention centres. There is also a juvenile colony as well as three medical-correctional institution, and between all the facilities in the far eastern region there are a total of 16,000 convicts.

In Soviet times, the region was part of the notorious GULAG network. In 1937, there were 70,000 prisoners in the region. According to Mr Simchenko the production of food and other goods from Primorskyi in 2014 was intended to meet the demand for goods hit by sanctions on Russia.

He said agricultural goods were now reaching shops from the Federal Penitentiary Service sites and were a worthy replacement for previously imported goods.

The continued demand for furniture and building materials across Russia will help ensure the colonies keep on expanding and modernising what they produce, in turn creating new jobs for inmates and helping to attract new investors.

Comments (2)

The only thing I'd how many hours is their working day? There's a fine line between compliancy & slavery, even for prisoners.
jojnjo, Dublin
05/11/2014 00:34
Years of advantage!
Pablo, Spain
31/10/2014 17:12

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