Daghestani and Azerbaijani inmates sew mouths shut in Russia prison hunger strike 

27 April 2021
A prison in Russia. Official photo.

Nine inmates of a prison colony in Smolensk sew their lips shut as part of a hunger strike over ‘inhuman treatment’ at the hands of prison guards.

The protest in the prison in western Russia involved three people from the Russian republic of Daghestan — Akim Esretaliev, Gadzhimurad Rasulov, Shamil Nurmagomedov — and Azerbaijani native Shamil Nurmagomedov.

Their relatives told Caucasian Knot that inmates were confined to punishment cells without justification and even threatened with torture for expressing dissatisfaction with the illegal actions of prison officials. 

Their relatives said they were also forbidden to perform religious rituals and that those suffering from chronic diseases were not provided free access to medicines prescribed by the medical unit. 

On Saturday, their relatives filed complaints to the President of Russia, Director of the Federal Penitentiary Service, the Prosecutor General’s Office, and the In Defence of the Rights of Prisoners Foundation, a Russian rights group.

The foundation told OC Media that they had received a complaint from 10 relatives of people serving sentences in the colony and were investigating. 

According to the group, on Saturday, the first deputy head of the Penitentiary Service in Smolensk Region, Alexander Kazakov, met with the prisoners, after which they came to a compromise to end the hunger strike.  

A spokesperson for the Smolensk Regional Directorate of the Penitentiary Service told OC Media that they had not received any application by prisoners to declare a hunger strike and had no knowledge of any such self-harm.

[Read from the archives: The green zone: where Russia's Caucasian prisoners are fighting back]

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