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Russian prison "Kresty" walking tour

The name "Kresty" in English means "Crosses" and comes from the shape of 2 jail buildings on the territory of prison. They are like 2 crosses if watching from the sky down. Prison Kresty

Officialy it is an isolation ward №1. The prisoners here are those who are suspected in committing a crime, but they are not yet proved to be guilty. They usually spend here 1,5 years maximum. And as soon as the sentence is executed, the person goes to the place to serve the term of penalty.

In this prison there are now also real criminals whose term is less than 5 years. They are 300 hundred and all work as a maintenance of the prison. Some of them have "XO" on the back of the uniform, meaning "Хозяйственное Обслуживание" (in English "Household Service") and "РК" for "Рабочая Команда" (in English "Working Team").

There are now 3500 prisoners here at the moment (everyone has a bed). Only 4 years ago, before 2002, there were 12000 people.

Each cell is 8 square meters. 4 beds, a sink and a toilet. Tiny window up below the ceiling. The normal amount is 4 people per cell. Before 2002 there were up to 13 people in each cell, and during the Stalin's, in 1930-s era up to 30. People were going crazy just because they could not stand all the time. The toilet (lavatory pan) appeared in prison only in 1960-s. Before that prisoners were using a bucket.

There is an eyelet in each cell for controllers. And a feeding window, which they get food through. Daily meals' budget is 67 rubles (circa $2), and it is not actually that bad compared to the Russian army's soldier budget - it is only 20 rubles there, 3 times less.

Prison Kresty interior ward There are many truthful escape stories in "Kresty". Here is one of them. According to the rule, there cannot be 2 prisoners in 1 cell - if they have different weight of crime committed: for instance one is here for the first time and the second is a repeater (recidivist), however once this rule was broken, moreover these 2 prisoners were very much in common. So the recidivist, Nikolay by name makes up a plan: he tries to copy his cell-mate Semen in everything he does: the way he walks, talks, his gestures, mime, he learns his biography. One day he pretends to be Semen and just leaves the prison. He is still not found.

25.03.2017