Caught in Russia’s Prison-Pandemic Nexus

BY DR. OLGA ZEVELEVA

Russian prisons are easing their coronavirus policies after four months of heavy restrictions, and some penal institutions are open to short visits again since late June. Human rights defenders have criticized Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service for “information blockade” and lack of transparency during this period. As we learn more about the short-term and long-term impact of the virus on custodial institutions, it is time to assess the policies that have been in place thus far. In a new blog post, sociologist Olga Zeveleva reviews what we already know about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of Russia’s prisoners, and how Russia compares with other European countries.

Continue reading “Caught in Russia’s Prison-Pandemic Nexus”

Lessons of the Recent Past: From Tuberculosis to COVID-19 in Russia’s Prisons

BY JUDITH PALLOT, PI “GULAGECHOES”

The Russian prison system is no stranger to epidemics. Faced with COVID-19, Russia has had a wealth of experience to draw upon. In this blog, and following on from the history of the response to epidemics in the Russian prison system in 19th and 20th centuries, Judith Pallot brings the story up to turn of the millennium, by speculating on the lessons today’s Prison Service might have learned from the most recent past.

Continue reading “Lessons of the Recent Past: From Tuberculosis to COVID-19 in Russia’s Prisons”

The Veil of Secrecy: How did the Soviet government quell epidemics in prisons?

BY DR. MIKHAIL NAKONECHNYI

In a new blog post, historian Mikhail Nakonechnyi discusses the Soviet legacies that still plague Russia’s contemporary penitentiary services. He analyses the secretiveness of penal system officials, and compares how the USSR handled epidemics with how Russia is handling the current COVID-19 pandemic. He shows that current practices of secrecy about epidemiological data resemble not the Stalinist GULAG era, but rather Soviet prisons of the 1920s. Continue reading “The Veil of Secrecy: How did the Soviet government quell epidemics in prisons?”

Muslim prisoners in Russia during the COVID-19 pandemic

BY DR. RUSTAMJON URINBOYEV

In a new blog post on prisons during the pandemic, Dr. Rustamjon Urinboyev turns to the experiences of Muslim prisoners in contemporary Russia. Drawing on his extensive fieldwork among migrants from Uzbekistan who have served prison sentences in the Russian Federation, he analyses the everyday practices of these transnational prisoners and their prison communities, and explains how these practices have changed since the onset of coronavirus-related lockdowns.

Continue reading “Muslim prisoners in Russia during the COVID-19 pandemic”

Streamed discussion event: “COVID-19 in Russia and Eurasia”, 11 June 2020

Please join our discussion event “COVID-19 in Russia and Eurasia”, which will be open to the public through online streaming from the University of Helsinki Think Corner on 11 June 2020 at 14.00-15.30.  Olga Zeveleva will join University of Helsinki researchers Margarita Zavadskaya and Sherzod Eraliev to take a look at how the COVID-19 crisis has affected politics, the economy, and punishment in Russia and Eurasia over the past several months. Mikhail Nakonechnyi will chair the discussion.  Audiences are invited to join the discussion via Twitter and send in their comments and questions using hashtag #coronainrussia. You can read more about the event here. A YouTube video of the full event is available here.

Prisons and the typhus/typhoid epidemic of 1908-1910: How the Russian Imperial penal system contained the outbreak

BY DR. MIKHAIL NAKONECHNYI

In a new blog post on the history of pandemics in prisons, Dr. Mikhail Nakonechnyi takes an in-depth look at the typhus and typhoid outbreak in the Russian Empire in 1908-1910. He analyses the range of measures the government employed to contain the epidemic, and compares these historical events with COVID-19 in present-day Russian prisons.

Continue reading “Prisons and the typhus/typhoid epidemic of 1908-1910: How the Russian Imperial penal system contained the outbreak”

Prisons and the cholera epidemic of 1892-1893: How the Russian Imperial penal system contained the outbreak

BY DR. MIKHAIL NAKONECHNYI

In a new series of posts, historian Mikhail Nakonechnyi, Postdoctoral Researcher on the Gulag Echoes project, takes a look at how epidemics were contained in the prisons of the Russian Empire. The first of his two posts analyses the Cholera epidemic of 1892-1893. You can read the second post here. Continue reading “Prisons and the cholera epidemic of 1892-1893: How the Russian Imperial penal system contained the outbreak”

Living in prison: Responses to COVID-19 in Georgia’s penal system and implications for how we think about the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’

BY DR. COSTANZA CURRO

Dr. Costanza Curro, a Postdoctoral research fellow on the Gulag Echoes project, has been analysing what Georgia’s penal system responses to COVID-19 can tell us about divides between the prison and the ‘outside world’. In this post, Costanza considers how exceptional pandemic-driven measures expose the contradictions of the prison itself.    

Continue reading “Living in prison: Responses to COVID-19 in Georgia’s penal system and implications for how we think about the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’”

New episode of Meduza’s podcast “The Naked Pravda” features insights from the Gulag Echoes research project

Olga Zeveleva was a guest on Meduza’s English-language podcast “The Naked Pravda,” hosted by Kevin Rothrock. The episode is titled Pandemic Justice: How COVID-19 and coronavirus containment measures have exacerbated problems in Russia’s courts and prisons.” Other guests included Kirill Koroteev, head of international practice at the “Agora” international human rights group; Ksenia Runova of the Institute for the Rule of Law at the European University at St. Petersburg; investigative journalist Liliya Yapparova; and Valentina Dekhtyarenko, project manager at the “Open Russia” human rights group. You can listed to the podcast here.