Today, on 5 October, I am forced to leave the hospital for the Moscow City Court, which is obviously by mistake, because the Basmannyi Court is considering eight of my complaints against the investigator’s omission today; I do not have to attend that hearing. It means that I will be held in the prison truck stinking with cigarette smoke, with no water, food and pills, with no glasses, and in a track suit (as they picked me up when I was having a walk) from early morning till late night. This is what the prison is like: even the hospital doctor had no difficulty claiming that I could attend the court session although she knew that even healthy people could hardly bear those inhumane conditions of prison truck transportation. So many articles have been written about that, so many judgements have been delivered by the ECHR, which compared delivery of the accused to the court to the torture. The prison hospital doctors must change their white uniforms for the camouflage of the Federal Penitentiary Service so that their looks will conform to their contents. It is especially applicable to the Head of the Therapeutic Department with the self-explanatory last name of Konovalova (which means a horse doctor in Russian): she was the very person who issued the certificate stating that I was absolutely healthy and could take part in the court hearing.

The most horrible thing about prison is total lack of your rights: anyone can kick you, do whatever they want, you are nothing although there still has been court no verdict, and you have not been found guilty and convicted.

I left Lefortovo for the court sessions with pleasure as I missed communication with prisoners and attorneys there, and every trip was like an adventure. However, no matter how often I had written petitions for my personal participation, I was only offered video conference calls. Today everything was on the opposite. According to my complaint against the investigator’s actions under Article 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine, I had the right to personal participation by video conference calls. I have to attend the sessions where my arrest is extended.

For some reason, I was brought to the Moscow City Court, placed into the glass cell and not even told what time the hearing would be and why. Nobody could answer my questions. You can spend five or six hours in that cell. I had been sitting there for about two hours, asked to get the hot water I had the right to, as the there was a glass and a tea bag in the dry ration. After the tenth request, I was brought the kettle and poured some water in the glass, but it turned out to be leaking. I asked for another glass, but the police officer from the Moscow City Court looked at me as if I were an idiot: where could he get one? 

Total helplessness in relations with the state machine can break any person and turn him or her into an enemy. The police officers discussing my leaking glass laughed out loud and made “witty” comments. 

As I had expected, the court session was adjourned until 10:00 on 11 October 2018 because I had not been duly notified; my defenders had no information on today’s proceedings. Why waste so much money if the court session had obviously been organised in gross breach of the law! Here is Russia at its best!

According to my estimates, more than 30 employees organised my delivery and the litigation, let alone the fact that I missed the hearing in the Basmannyi Court, where my relatives, attorneys, prosecutors, investigators, judges etc. expected to see me. The state damaged my health and violated my rights, and it also wasted lots of money to disrupt two hearings? Who must be held liable?

When we were brought back to Matrosskaia Tishina by prison truck, we were held inside for a long time, and the wardens discussed that Major General Sergei Moroz, the Head of the Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Moscow, was in the detention centre. We kept knocking on the walls, and my fellows even rocked the car trying to attract their attention. It was very uncomfortable to sit in the prison truck, and many of us wanted to smoke in the open air. To play it safe, they let me out right next at the hospital entrance instead of making me leave with all the other prisoners, as usual, although it was a short way, just a hundred meters.

When I entered my cell 726 at about 17:00, I immediately demanded to see the senior executives to be explained why I had been taken to the Moscow City Court instead of the Basmannyi Court because I had not been notified of the hearing and did not even know why it was conducted. The major I did not know came and said,

“Stop yelling! I will talk to the senior executives.”

It was 18:00 o’clock, Friday, so no senior executives were generally at work at such time. In an hour, the warden came,

“Shestun, pick up your staff and prepare to leave in 20 minutes.”

I recollected the events of the last few days and understood what was happening. Chief Medical Officer Dinar Gaisin had not had a medical examination in our cell in the morning for the last three days. Before that, on Tuesday, my attending doctor Raisa Alekseevna demanded to conduct the gastrofibroscopy (to check out the duodenal ulcer) although we had agreed we would do that the next week. I remember Gaisin telling me before that if the angiostenosis in the ceratoid artery was confirmed, he would easily send me for medical examination to Bakulev Centre. 64 % of the angiostenosis was confirmed by the ultrasonic examination, but Dinar Tagirovich changed his rhetoric abruptly and claimed,

“You must understand it is not that easy in your case!” 

Karetnikova came, and I told her about the abrupt change in the attitude. She realised at once that Gaisin had been given the command and went to him to demand to be a doctor rather than a prison warden in the first place. In five minutes, Dinar Tagirovich rushed to me and asked to write a new application for examination in Bakulev Centre. I calmed down and thought it would be that way as I remembered his ambitious statements about his resistance to pressure. That day, I was examined by three doctors, the cardiologist, the neurologist and the gastroenterologist, who made surprisingly the same opinions on my miraculous recovery. After the urgent gastrofibroscopy, the doctor (living in Krasnogorsk) was glad to report to me that everything was fine, and there were no traces of the duodenal ulcer bleeding several days ago. 

So I keep thinking: whose life is more disgusting? Mine while in prisons or theirs if they have to give the same opinions on wonderful health of the prisoners even when they are at death’s door. I made sure that my return to Lefortovo had been planned several days before, despite the fact that I had not been cured, after I had analysed the entire algorithm and compared the facts. The wardens told me that they had been commanded to pick me up in the afternoon, so the issue was not my conflicts in Matrosskaia Tishina and quarrels with the major at 18:00 regarding my illegal trip to the court on Friday, 5 October 2018.

I recollected that I had borne testimony to investigator Sergei Pisarev regarding extortion of money in the especially large amounts by the top-rank officials of the Federal Security Service on Tuesday. I had filed a similar statement to Director Aleksandr Bortnikov and M Directorate of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation approximately a month ago, and it was forwarded to the investigators in my criminal case.

At the interrogation, I claimed in writing that I was ready to furnish that data only to the officers of the Federal Security Service and the Main Military Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, who had the corresponding powers. Moreover, that information was classified, and I had assumed the non-disclosure obligation where I assured that I was ready to confirm the extortion with the facts under the oath. The doctors’ behaviour changed cardinally on the very next day, like after the wave with a magic wand. I knew what Lefortovo, where First Deputy Director of the Federal Penitentiary Service was held and from which Head of the Federal Penitentiary Service Aleksandr Reimer was transferred to the prison settlement, was like, and I knew how afraid they were of the Federal Security Service. Despite the final end of my stay in the prison hospital, I was satisfied with 40 days spent in Matrosskaia Tishina. It could be called a holiday from Lefortovo, a tour, a quest, an educational or extreme trip. All these names are good to describe the after-taste, the brightness of which could be compared with the life in the fifth detention centre “Vodnik”. The only difference was that at the beginning of my detention I had much fewer hopes to a happy end, but now I have almost none.

During those 40 days in Matrosskaia Tishina, I saw so many tragedies, so many broken lives, which seemed much more terrible and unfair in comparison with mine. Moreover, I had the time and opportunities to write about that, which is my main hobby know. Of course, I will be in big trouble after that, I have received many threats regarding my publications. They promise I will be imprisoned for 15 years unless I stop, and I believe them, they are the power and masters of the universe now.


Of course, I remember masters of the universe changing in the course of time. I was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and remember secretaries of the city and regional committees who would summon prosecutors, judges and police officers to scold them. In the 90s, I saw the power and influence of the gangs who “settled” all the issues then with my own eyes. I remember Vania Nazarov and Oleg Bazylian telling me that the prosecutors were masters of the universe then. I kept repeating to the secretaries of the state committee, criminals and prosecutors, 

“Everything might change one day!”

If you recall what it was like 20 years ago, the Federal Security Service did not have the power it has now: they are masters of everything. They decide who the billionaires, generals and “criminals” are, and the population does not seem to mind. The people are not surprised to see that some generals of the Federal Security Service live in the houses worth dozens of millions dollars and control the entire business community. Asceticism is not popular among the officers now.

You have to pay for everything. 40 days in the hospital, in good conditions and my recovery were lost in one day, 5 October 2018. At 18:00, started packing my staff and passing all the search procedures. My finger prints were taken, and I passed personal examination.

One of the wardens, obviously from Moscow Region, asked me, 

“Have you been imprisoned for the snowballs?”

It is hard to think of the more accurate wording (during the residents’ protest in Volokolamsk against the disposal site, the people grew so indignant that they started throwing snowballs at Governor of Moscow Region Andrei Vorobev). 

The same procedures were repeated in Lefortovo. I entered the single cell only at 6 a.m.

Can you imagine that? Being tortured for 24 hours! So many efforts and health lost on that day... What a terrible price I have to pay for my principles and stubbornness (whichever you prefer)... 

In Lefortovo, all your staff is taken away for quarantine, and you are placed into the single cell without anything. No books, no TV, no newspapers, no dishes, no washing substances or electronic equipment – all these things will be given out little by little from the warehouse in a few days. It is good that my father has not lived up to this horror. As I know how sensitive he was to such injustice, I have difficulty imagining what he would do now, and how his heart would break.


When I returned to that horrible Château d'If, into that purgatory where human dignity is destroyed, the will is suppressed, I was totally “frozen” and in despair. I was placed into cell 188 on the third floor, in the very corner and with no neighbours.

I was neither morally nor organisationally ready to move, which is a very long and hard procedure. I believed Chief Medical Officer Gaisin that I would be warned at least a day before, not twenty minutes in advance, as we had arranged. All my things had been taken away, with the very minimum left. I had no books, newspapers, tableware, equipment, stationeries, personal care items, coat hangers and pills, and I was physically and morally devastated. I am turning 54 in two weeks, but I still believe people and cannot get used to the real life like a small boy. 

It is as quiet as the grave here: no shouts I got used to in Matrosskaia Tishina, no attorneys (because of the artificial queue), no cafe, no correspondence, no shower, no warm water and many other things distracting you from gloomy thoughts and taking away your time. 

By the evening, I had washed myself and unpacked those few things I had, set my heart on the coming trouble and made myself go to bed early, at 7 o’clock. The warden woke me up by shouting into the food window,

“Why are you lying under the blanket? The lights are still on!”

“I was searched all the night, and the documents were executed until 6 a.m., I didn’t have even an hour to sleep,” I responded. 

“Nobody cares! You are breaking the rules, use your jacket instead,” the corridor guard insisted.

I realised that trying to prove something to that “guardian of the law” was the same as hitting your head against the wall, so I put on my heavy jacket and slept until 6 a.m. on Sunday. While I was falling asleep, I remembered Sasha, an officer of the detention centre who was making a list of my staff, being very indignant that I felt sorry about the twelve-year sentence to businessman Manashirov, my former cell mate in Lefortovo.

“Gena Manashirov is a bastard, I have got to know him well in three years. I would sentence him to life imprisonment!” the officer claimed.

“Even murderers are not given such sentence,” I objected.

“He should have fled to Israel, just like his brother. A Jewish muzzle, they all must be shot down.”

“You know, I don’t say he is saint. But what about his five children? What about his elderly mother? What is their fault?” I tried to find something humane in him.

“They are all bastards! I would shot down everyone having more than a million!” the field investigator finished.

I understood any other comments would be of no use. Our Russia will keep suffering from lack of tolerance and humanity in the society for a long time. The country of prisons, prison settlements, criminals and wardens. Who prevents that Sasha from constructing malls like Manashirov? From earning and getting rich? It is easier to rejoice at the misfortune of the others and do nothing yourself. Moreover, you can also command and feed your sense of self-importance. I would understand the prison guard judging the robber, the drug dealer, the public official or the general who earns money by imprisoning others, or at least the businessman who has earned money from waste disposal sites and poisoned other people’s life. But what is wrong with Manashirov? The fact that he is Jewish? Terrible!

I slept in my heavy jacket and trousers from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m., when the corridor guard announced the wake-up; I had been exhausted by the around-the-clock transfer marathon.

When I woke up, I felt refreshed, so I washed my face, had a shave, cleaned the cell, mended holes in the bag, brushed my clothes and wrote more than ten complaints and several letters. There was a fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor: the central prison was shaking, and my neighbours yelled and halloed so much that the female warden came and shamed them,

“Do you thing it is a resort here?”

The fans could be Magomedov brothers sponsoring Khabib or the government of Dagestan, with almost all the ministers held there. 

There was no TV in my room, but I had expected that fight and believed without any doubts that Khabib, our hero, would win. It was clear from the shouting that Nurmagomedov had won, which raised my spirits even more. 

“Maybe, Lefortovo is not that bad after all?” I thought. In any case, lack of attorneys, e-correspondence, TV, books, communication with the other prisoners, which distracts you from the fight, will be of use in a way. In hospital, I wrote no complaints while I used to send at least a dozen per day in Lefortovo. I will demand to take me to all the hearings to blame the rogue officers, I will keep drawing up petitions and complaints and describing my life. A la guerre comme a la guerre! Hell with all the conveniences and restaurant food: life with the full stomach does not encourage you to fight, and there is no end of my enemies. 

This week, on 11 October, I will be taken to the Moscow City Court. I hope I will see the prisoners of Lefortovo in the prison truck and find out the news of the central prison. The last trip to the Basmannyi Court with Kostia Ponomarev and Dmitrii Mikhalchenko was perfect. I have found out here that Ponomarev has been transferred to the Serpukhov prison, and there has been a lot of fuss there. Billionaires have never been held in custody in our city. That is bad as I dreamt of being his cell mate as there were things he could teach me. I wonder who my cell mate will be this time. As a reminder, there is a rule here not to keep the same people in custody together twice.

Today, on Sunday, I had a walk in the yard on the prison top and felt really refreshed, although much less that I did in Matrosskaia Tishina: the sun here does not even reach your face. Sometimes, you can stand on the bench and feel the sun rays on your face. It all depends on the time of the walk and location of the bench. 

I came back to the cell, heated some water with a heater and washed myself in a basin by pouring water onto myself with a small scoop from the top. Then I gathered water from the floor, which had got into the basin only partly; I was alone in the cell. I am not embarrassed by the fact that female wardens look inside the cell every five minutes. I even have to go to the toilet in front of them: let me remind that the iron cone-shaped toilet is in front of the camera and the eyelet, with nowhere to hide. They look at me as if I was behind the glass, and I look back. The strange thing is that women are rougher than male wardens. At the weekend, they get together at the “reception desk” in the middle of the detention centre and laugh out loud, probably, telling jokes or some funny stories. You cannot here that on work days because the senior executives are at work. 

I have nothing to read so I write novels before I go to bed. I need to inform Eva Merkacheva, Kogershyn Sagieva and Boris Klin from ITAR-TASS that I need to see and talk to them, and to publish this information in the media. I have not seen them for a long time, they are not admitted to Matrosskaia Tishina. I do not look as scary as I did during the hunger strike, I have something to show to the girls: I am in quite a good shape, and the stories I can tell will need more than a day.


Monday morning, 8 October. I had woken up before the wake-up call, and it turned out I had slept like a log for eleven hours. With no dreams, as if I had fallen down into the blackness. This night, I often woke up because the light distracted me, although I have not used a sleeping mask for a long time. The lights are not off in prison at night so that everything prisoners do can be seen with the camera. Today I had incredibly bright and colourful dreams, so real that I absolutely believed in them. First I dreamt of beach volleyball with Nikolai Patrushev, and then of the winter festival in Lipitsy, which the residents had made up themselves. The women wore bright scarves and kept kissing me on the cheeks; they were the people I knew, mostly from the sports and culture departments. They dug me into the snowdrift, where I fell asleep... Some time later, they dug me out, and we went to the Palace of Culture to watch the concert by the Little Sunflowers and other dancers and singers. I had never had such bright dreams similar to 3D before.

It has turned out that Yurii Kornyi, with whom we were on a hunger strike at the same time in Lefortovo and then were held in the adjacent cells in hospital, is next to me now, in cell 183, while I am on the third floor in cell 188, in the very corner. However, he has a cell mate, and I am alone. In hospital, we considered a new hunger strike if we were returned to Lefortovo. Unfortunately, there are few methods for fighting abuse by the law enforcement authorities. There is no response to complaints now... Of course, the second hunger strike will do much more damage to my body, but it could be probably better than dying in custody. 


I was kept in the cell alone for several days. I hoped that my new cell mates would be anyone but a prisoner from Uzbekistan or Tajikistan accused of terrorism. That was not because I disliked them: I do respective these wonderful peoples and their religion, Islam, but I am orthodox, my main language is Russian, and they generally have a poor command of my native language.

As you might guess, my new cell mate was Fazliddin Kodirov from Uzbekistan, probably so that I would not think that life was all beer and skittles. Moreover, I describe my mates’ stories, but it is not customary to write about “terrorists”. However, a word dropped from a song makes it all wrong.

Fazliddin has been in Lefortovo for two years. He is 26 and, just like majority of “terrorists”, he has never held any weapons in his arms and has a faint idea of tritol. According to him, only one of his ten accomplices actually fought in Syria while the others were arrested “to join the club”, just to report on liquidation of the terrorist organisation. Moreover, before Lefortovo, he had not prayed and had not been an ardent supporter of Islam. 

Kodirov does combat sambo and is very fit: his muscles are like the bodybuilder’s ones. He worked as a security guard in the night club in Saint Petersburg and accidentally spent a night at this colleagues’ place when they were detained by the Federal Security Service. The weapons had been traditionally planted, and the field officers got the confession of guilt after the long torture with electric current, beating, handcuffing in the apartment where they were held in winter with the windows open for 12 hours and, of course, their favourite method, pulling solid items into the bottom hole. In fact, everyone denies the confession at the court hearing, but nobody cares. Kodirov knew only two out of his “accomplices” and saw the rest in the prison truck or in court. 

The first person my mate was held with was 63-year-old Boris Mazo, the accomplice of Deputy Minister of Culture Grisha Pirumov. After two years in Prison, Mazo was released in the court room and went abroad at once. It turned out his fears were reasonable: Grisha was arrested again, and Boris was put on the international wanted list, but the European countries generally do not extradite those who are pursued. Boris fed Fazliddin and treated the young man from Uzbekistan like a son.

The next Kodirov’s mate in Lefortovo was Susi Raivo from Estonia, the businessman who traded in planes and was accused of spying. In the end, Russia and Estonia exchanged him for the Russian citizen. Although Raivo was a wealthy businessman, he checked all his products after these trips to court, so my mate found it impossible to eat with him. After seven months of co-existence with the Estonian, Fazliddin was transferred to cell 188 to Shamil Isaev, the Deputy Head of Dagestan. Shamil behaved decently, helped with everything and shared his food. Unfortunately, he was taken away from that man in a month. 53-year-old Shamil was fit, exercised and did not complain; he behaved like a real man. 

Then he was transferred to cell 188 to Igor Petrovich Rudnikov. Fazliddin spent eight months there. Igor Petrovich is a journalist from Kaliningrad accused for extorting money from the investigative authorities. Rudnikov owned The Novye Kolesa newspaper, where he published regular articles on corruption in the law enforcement authorities. The same as Shamil, Igor Petrovich was of my age and spent ten hours a day writing complaints and notes on his life. He cooperated a lot with the European Court of Human Rights, the same way as Shamil and I did, and exercised a lot. Rudnikov could do a hundred push-ups at once, ate only healthy food and was strong-spirited and well-balanced. After they had spent eight months in cell 188 together, Rudnikov was transferred to a prison in Kaliningrad. 

The next mate was Oleg Mkrtchan. A businessman from Donbas, who was born in Armenia and received the Russian citizenship. He came to Moscow and was detained there. Oleg Artushevich is also of my age. He is 53, two meters tall and of medium build. However, they had numerous conflicts during the week, so Fazliddin was transferred to my cell 188, where he had spend eight months.

I had to literally squeeze the information on his mates with whom Kodirov had spent a long time out of Fazliddin. He is not the only one who is difficult to talk to. When I ask about cell mates, everyone describes each other in two or three sentences. I had spent a day with Kubasaev, but I wrote three pages about him. A month with Manashirov resulted in the novel.

A week had passed since 8 October, and I asked Kodirov what he thought about me in comparison with the other prisoners as he travelled with all the famous prisoners in the prison truck and knew almost everyone in Lefortovo. Fazliddin described me as an extreme hell-raiser and said he had never seen any other prisoner who would push for his rights and tried to commend the prison bosses so much. Few people are addressed with the first name and patronymic like I am.

Yesterday, after my another “stunt”, Aleksandr Khanov kept his promise and guaranteed that I would be the first to be transferred to the new redecorated building where there would be hot water, a big fridge, a LED TV and a normal iron toilet. We will see. 

The thing is that all your staff is taken away to the warehouse and not given back for a long time, under the pretext of sanitary treatment, in Lefortovo. All I had was socks, a T-shirt and trousers, with no personal care items, napkins, paper to write letters and so on. Some of the things were still not given back after my demands and written warnings, so I went to the Moscow City Court in shorts. The wardens refused to admit me to the prison truck in shorts because my clothes were out of season. The warehouse manager and all the senior executives rushed to me at once and took it in turns offering me different trousers from the warehouse. I capriciously claimed that all of them were crumpled. All that fuss took around an hour and a half. All that time, the prison truck with billionaire Dmitrii Mikhalchenko, Governor of Komi Viacheslav Gaizer, Head of the State Council of Komi Igor Kovzel, Deputy Governor of the Republic Aleksei Chernov and former Head of the Main Directorate for Economic Security and Anti-Corruption Enforcement of Saint Petersburg Boris Korevskii waiting to be taken to the Basmannyi Court waited for me in the yard. They were happy to see me, shook my hands and tapped me on the shoulders.

“I wondered why we waited for so long!” Mikhalchenko exclaimed. “Shestun is the only one to cause such fuss! We would have been placed into the isolation cell for that!”

“Thank you for your stance and principles! We are watching your story!” Viacheslav Gaizer smiled at me.

In fact, Dmitrii Mikhalchenko and Gaizer’s colleagues immediately asked me not to write about them.

“Bastards!” I thought. “They are held in Lefortovo, each of them might be imprisoned for twenty years, and they are still hiding!” 

For some reason, I recollected how the Jews in the concentration camps went to the furnaces to be burnt obediently and hushed at those ones who tried to oppose the Germans.

Then we discussed the litigation concerning the Government of the Republic of Komi. I asked them about Konstantin Romadanov and Demian Moskvin, who had published the audio record of his conversation with senior major case investigator Nikolai Tutevich demanding to defame Gaizer in exchange for a more lenient sentence; they both had had a plea bargain. The publication caused the public stir in Syktyvkar, and there was a domino effect where lots of people started attesting about the pressure by the Federal Security Service and fake evidence in courts. However, present-day judges merely ignore such things...

I was pleased to hear the stories told by those lively people and enjoyed the opportunity to communicate with such charismatic personalities. It all ended with sex adventures in the university years, but you must understand I cannot disclose any details... I have given my word although the stories are so bright... I can hardly resist a temptation to write...

Viacheslav Gaizer is a surprisingly patient and friendly man. How could that talented Governor with a budget of no more than 80 billion roubles always be in the top ratings of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation?! His Republic ranked fifth, after Chechnya. To compare, the budget of the Moscow Region is ten times bigger, but the government’s performance is many times lower, let alone the wild corruption which makes Gaizer’s people look like children. I looked at those man in the prison truck and was amazed by the fact that they remained optimistic after they had spent almost three years in that terrible prison, in seven-meter cells similar to coffins, with no hot water, correspondence, attorneys, meetings and phone conversations with their families.

Such meetings are the main reason to go to our disgusting courts, where no adversarial nature exists, where all the documents framed-up by the investigators are easily accepted, and where the judges do not even try to hear the arguments of the defence lawyers.

My and my attorneys’ purpose is to appeal from every actions of the investigator in court so that I will be taken to court as soon as possible and will have the chance to see and talk to the Lefortovo prisoners, attorneys and, of course, my family members. There have already been around ten hearings. However, the judges try to outsmart us and hold five to seven sessions a day in order to reduce the state’s huge expenses for these litigations. It means we will extend the appeal procedures so that they will not be able to do that because of the time frames.

I am stunned by the tonnes of papers “born” by the courts, investigators and prosecutors. What is the purpose? Anyway, there are only lies and absolute negligence of the law. The Republic of Komi manufacturers almost all the paper for our national market. It should not...

By the way, all the wardens in courts and prison trucks recognise me; most of them treat me with respect, have seen by video redress, and whisper into my ear,

“You are a great man! My respect!”

While was waiting for the heating in the three-meter cell of the Moscow City Court on 11 October 2018, I was luck to talk to 50-year-old Stas Volkov from Donbas from the common building of Matrosskaia Tishina. It was obvious from two gymnastical polyvinylchloride mats on which he slept huddled up that he was an experienced prisoner. I still had warm memories of Matroska and the free spirit. Even the criminal rules and the shouts, “Prisoners have the same lifestyle! Life to thieves! Forever! And ever!” we could hear at night from the prison windows seemed nice in comparison with the cemetery-like silence in Lefortovo, which was rarely broken by the wild laughter of the prison guards.

Stas had moved to Crimea and lived in Yalta with his wife and little child, whom he missed a lot. He was imprisoned for the crime committed 12 years ago, and his accomplices had been released based on Article 209 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation long ago. Volkov often sees mafia enforcer Ilias in the gym in Matrosskaia Tishina and he knew the former ones, Avar Sura and Chechen Anzor, well. He also knows our mate in Lefortovo, baron of crime Yurii Pichugin, and has asked a lot about him.

“All I know is that he keeps praying ten hours a day as he is an ardent orthodox, and that he has been charged under so many articles that he is rumoured to be sentenced to life imprisonment,” I told him everything I knew about Pichugin.

Although he adhered to the criminal rules, Stas turned out to be well educated and to deeply understand all the intricacies of the present-day laws and the political and economic situation in the country. We discussed a dramatic increase in the numbers of Islam prisoners, who were not only from the South, but also the Russians who had converted to that religion. Some did for the sake of their ideology, some did to support the underbosses and tramps, who mostly pertained to Islam. The numbers are growing at an exponential rate, which is terrifying. 

My accidental companion gave me his dry ration from Matrosskaia Tishina; for some reason, Lefortovo had provided me with no food. The warden told me to leave, we bade farewell warmly, and I was taken to the prison truck to the wonderful ladies from the sixth female prison. We spent all the way to Lefortovo talking. They had also been in prison for two years, just like Stas, had heard of my story and took it in turns to wish my family good health. They asked me to address the residents of Russia with the request to support the wide amnesty, which was allegedly planned (in a moderate way) by the State Duma to commemorate the anniversary of the Constitution of Russia in December. 

All three conversations I had that day had one common idea: unreasonably long sentences easily delivered by our courts and cardinally different from the world practice. In the tsar Russia, the average prison sentence was four month, while the one in the present-day democratic Russia is four years. Both in the world and in the tsar Russia maximum sentences were delivered for violent crimes while in our countries they are for those who have displeased the “elite”. Murderers are generally sentences to five to 7 years, while Nizami Yusubov manufacturing clothes at Cherkizon has been sentenced to 15 years, and businessman Manashirov has got 12 years! The prisoners from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, 90 % of whom have nothing to do with Islamism, are sentenced to 20 years in prison settlements for the sake of appearance. These prison settlements are already half “green” and are ruled by the Jamaat representatives; this is where such prisoners actually turn into public enemies.

These stout officers of the Federal Penitentiary Service with swollen faces and tiny salaries will not be able to stop fit and consolidated supporters of Islam inspired by the idea of jihad one wonderful day. The risk is pretty high, and the further it goes, the higher the risk is. 

I used to often go to Chechnya when there were hostilities there. We coordinated that Argun border guard unit in Itum-Kale on behalf of the Moscow Region and Health Nation. I saw it myself how dozens of Chechens destroyed our well-equipped military units consisting of dozens as many soldiers, in the battles. It is absolutely different from the crowd of 40 people assaulting my house, with minor children in there, with machine pistols.

When I came back to Lefortovo, I sat down at the desk and wrote the address to the residents of Russia at the request of the women dying to see their children.


Dear brothers and sisters! Dear fathers and mothers! Dear sons and children! Dear husbands and wives! Those who have been imprisoned in Russia with no proof!

My address is to you. Why are these well-fed prosecutors and judges keep your relatives behind the bar, in tiny cells with rats and mould, sleeping in turns because of the double load in the detention centres?

Russian justice has long turned into the circus performance with the accusatory drum roll. Just think about it! 75 % of the cases are heard based on the plea bargain or in accordance with the “special procedure”, when the judge simply copies letter of accusation into the verdict with no evidence of guilty, when there is no adversarial nature, and this is the main principle of Themis in Russia. There are only 0.3 % of the verdicts of non-guilty in Russia. This ratio was 25 times higher, 12 %, even in 1937, in the times of Stalin. 

Moreover, you keep feeding these fat cats: judges, prosecutors and investigators, their faces are already swollen with fat, their pockets are torn by the money, and their Rublevka castles are bigger than the ones of oligarchs. In addition, you have to pay for maintenance of the multi-million army of the prisoners, hundreds of billions of budget money every year.

What do these officials try to get from the state with such Barbarian methods? Creating several millions of enemies? Every prisoner has a family destroyed by the system. Our children also turn into public enemies because their fathers, breadwinners have been taken away.

If these “king’s servants” from the Presidential Executive Office, the General of the Federal Security Service and the Governor of the Moscow Region, say to me openly,

“Don’t you run for the election! Do not mess with our disposal sites, or we will take away your home, make your children turn to bag and wallet.”

All these words have been audio recorded and included into my video address to President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Do you think anyone was scared, despite five million views and the public reaction by President’s Press Secretary Dmitrii Peskov? I was put behind the bars for the resolution issued ten years ago, the one had been verified by the courts and investigators many times, and the house where my children lived wad attached. I do not feel sorry about it. Not seeing my children is much worse! The degradation of the Russian law enforcement system makes me cry! These “masters of the universe” are the main enemies of our state!

I urge all the residents of Russia to demand reduction of the multimillion army of the “law enforcement officers”, who are not often a substitute of the organised crime. We can leave only a half of the “servants of the law”, and there will still be more order in the country. No country of the world can afford to maintain 4 % of the able-bodied people with huge salaries at the expense of its taxpayers.

Dear fellows! Let’s join our efforts and demand the amnesty with the double reduction of numbers of prisoners held in prisons and prison settlements! For the sake of the future of our Motherland and our children!

I signed the address: Head of Serpukhov District in 2003-2018, Aleksandr Viacheslavovich Shestun.


A week has passed since I returned to that horrible place. I have calmed down and started to get used to my new “terrorist” cell mate Fazliddin. The guy is a great cook: he makes wonderful salads and other dishes. I have not eaten such tasty food even at home. He combines products, even the ones seeming incompatible, cuts, washes and mixes them so artfully that I have difficulty watching his hands. Kodirov calls me “uncle” as he finds it difficult to pronounce “Aleksandr Viacheslavovich”, and I am the same age as his mother. He is surprisingly optimistic, hardworking, fit and tidy, so I actually regret my request not to place me into a cell with prisoners from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

We remind of Robinson Crusoe and Friday from Defoe’s novel. Elderly Robinson lived on the island alone when he was attacked by the Indians. He was going to shoot down young Friday, but in the end the latter turned into his best friend and assistant. Finally, they sailed to England together. It seems Fazliddin is a bit offended when I compare him to Indian Friday, and exclaims,

“Why am I Indian?”

Yesterday, he used plastic bags, basins and ropes with a bed sheet to make me a shower. He heated some water and poured me with kettles as if they were a shower while my body was hidden behind the bed sheets and plastic begs. In prison, men are not supposed to see each other naked. It is forbidden both according to the criminal and Islamic rules. In the minimum-prison, everyone takes a shower in a common shower room in pants only. In the special units of Vodnik, only half of the prisoners in our cell took off their pants, but they tried to stay behind the partitions. Wild customs. 

Fazliddin prays several times a day (which is called namaz), the same way as Ruslan Bashirov did in the pink hospital cell. I have already got used to that and know the words almost by heart. It is surprising how many things are forbidden to the Muslims. For instance, they cannot listen to music and sing, take photos, smoke and drink alcohol, watch TV and do other ordinary things. An interesting thing is that I met representatives of all the religions in prison and found out much deeper aspects of their religion in comparison with what I had known when I was free.

I read Torah and adhered to the shabbes (Jewish Saturday) strictly together with Manashirov. As soon as he enters the cell, true orthodox Mikhalchenko puts cardboard icons around the perimeter and prays for a long time and explains all the intricacies after that. Andrei Murashev is an opinionated atheist who makes rough statements about “opiate of the masses” and especially dislikes the orthodoxy. As for me, I start my day with the Lord’s Prayer and keep asking for forgiveness for my sins, first of all, pride. 

In fact, in addition to knowledge and positive communication, prison gives you numerous bad habits, spoils and makes you laze around. Everything is done for you, and you lose the decision-making ability: you eat, sleep, walk and go to the sauna by the command.

For instance, I started eating biscuits, gingerbread cookies, bread and sweets that are forbidden for diabetes in the custody. I started drinking coffee, which should not be done if you have ulcer. I have dinner now, but when I was at home, I had only had kefir or tea with cheese after lunch for the last ten years. Fazliddin smokes in the cell, and I have difficulty restricting myself since I lived with that bad habit for almost 20 years. The only advantage is that I have not had a single drop of alcohol since the middle of June. And I do not want to. In The Notes from the Dead House by Dostoevsky, the prisoners work hard for several months in order to drink all the money up in a day.



After the long disputes with the senior executives of the second detention centre, Lefortovo, regarding my trip to the Moscow City Court in shorts on 11 October and two hours of threats by Lieutenant Colonel Khanov about the isolation cell and electric shocker with the demand to put on the trousers, which they had not given me for a week, despite my written notices of the trip to the court, I agreed to go in exchange for the transfer to a new cell with hot water, a large fridge and redecoration. Aleksandr Yurevich promised that I would be transferred there in two or three days. I had to wait for a week, but I and Fazliddin were transferred to the redecorated building with hot water and a real iron toilet, not the cone-shaped one.

The truth is that when I was going to the Moscow City Court on 11 October, all my medicines were taken away (let me remind you that I suffer from diabetes and ulcer) under the pretext of too many pills, and now they want me to reprimand and place me into the isolation cell. The prisoners’ logic is as follows: you can only take a daily dose of your pills. Moreover, I did not get the dry ration that day.

I am morally ready for the isolation cell, which is called “slammer” in the criminal slang. It is a separate sell on the ground semi-basement floor, with concrete only. You cannot wear your own clothes; only a special prison uniform is allowed. The bed is wall-mounted, and you cannot set or lie on it all the day long. The duration is 15 days. You cannot keep any personal belongings, food, TV, radio, books etc. in the cell. All the prisoners wonder why I have never been to the isolation cell given my behaviour. My prison adventures, my quest will definitely be incomplete without the slammer, and I am mentally ready to feel like Count of Monte-Cristo in Château d'If. I am ready for electric shockers and other tests since there can be nothing more painful than not being able to see your children, especially small ones.

Yulia says that four-year-old Matvei often rushes into my room, looks for me in the wardrobe and shouts out,

“Daddy! Daddy! Where is my Daddy?”

And then he cries...

Ten-year-old Grisha also suffers a lot and already understands that I am in prison. He is the most sensitive child in the family. 

Could electric current and the isolation cell dull that heart pain?

During my speeches in court and interrogations, my rhetoric has got much rougher, and I tell the judges, investigators, prosecutors and prison wardens

“You will be held liable for your unlawful actions! For the framed-up cases! For my children suffering! It does not matter whether it will happen in a year, two or five, but you will have to answer both to people and God.” 

On 16 October, I was taken to the Basmannyi Court in a very decent company again: they were Gaizer and his team, “billionaire” Colonel Zakharchenko and billionaire Mikhalchenko. At the court hearing by judge Karpov and then judge Safina, my speech was on the verge of breaking the rules. “Basmannyi justice” was the softest out of my statements, and I was made a number of warnings, but nothing except for death can stop me now. 

The last drop was discharge of my attorneys Bespalov and Kamaldinov in court by the investigator from the Investigative Committee, Vidiukov, so both litigations were adjourned.

I must say the opportunities of Tkachev and Dorofeev, the billionaire Generals of the Federal Security Service (without quotations marks I used for poor Zakharchenko), are vast. They had no difficulty framing up my fake case, as Eva Merkacheva called it. When investigator Vidiukov says, “I will throw you out of the prison hospital,” it happens this way. They said I would not be admitted to the election, and even Ella Pamfilova vanished like a kicked dog. When Vidiukov says my cell mate in Lefortovo will be a terrorist from Uzbekistan, he does that. The subordinate of General Alyshev from the Investigative Committee says that if attorneys Bespalov and Kamaldinov keep writing complaints to the court against the investigator’s omission, they will be discharged and imprisoned. Here you are! Total lawlessness and commands given by the Federal Security Service to the court, prison, investigators and hospital. The only thing they might do is to imprison my attorneys, and I am sure it could happen! The wrong country has been called Honduras. Here we come... 

Before, the meetings in the Basmannyi Court on 16 October, I recalled my visits to Dmitrii Mikhalchenko’s cell, where he had offered me very tasty duck, beef sausage, avocado and salary and tried to calm me down.

Dmitrii Sergeev, the owner of the construction company, testified against Mikhalchenko, but the latter being the true orthodox said nothing bad about that prisoner who had had a plea bargain. He prays for his family and even for Sergeev. By the way, when I was in Matrosskaia Tishina, the owner of Baltstroi tried to describe his meanness to me. I repeated that he was a bastard and I was ready to say that straight into his face. 

Now Sergeev is selling out Vice Governor of Saint Petersburg Marat Oganesian by accusing him of the episode regarding Saint Petersburg Arena via his secretary Anna Kolesnikova. How dare this rat challenge me?! He should be sitting tight.

When Dima Mikhalchenko gave me an excellent plastic fork, I melted down since such little things are very valuable in prison, especially in Lefortovo, where all you have is an iron spoon, and it is practically impossible to take anything you are allowed by the law. That present from a billionaire was very pleasant and important. I will remember this all my life. In my turn, I paid back with my own coin: I gave that bright businessman a salt mill with sea salt. It was also an exclusive thing for Lefortovo, only one type of salt could only be purchased from the prison store, at the double price and of very low quality. He was very happy when I gave him two boiled chicken eggs I was given for a week as a person suffering from diabetes. He wolfed down the egg and gave the second one to Boris Korevskii, former Deputy Head of the Main Directorate for Economic Security and Anti-Corruption Enforcement of Saint Petersburg and his “accomplice”. Eggs cannot be transferred to or purchased in Lefortovo, the same way as fish, for instance. It is the only prison having such stupid rules... What for? 

These meetings and mutual assistance give me the spiritual force, and I see how much Dima suffers because he cannot see his little children, how he prays, I see his tears when he talks about his children, I see how difficult it is for him to be held in custody in the seven-meter cell for three years (the cell is geometrically similar to the grave, it even has the rounded ceiling and a rectangular block) because he has a strong fear of cramped spaces. We were surprised to find out that we read the same book, The Notes from the Dead House by Dostoevsky about prison life. 

The same way as I did, Mikhalchenko worked a lot with the Federal Security Service, redecorated their building, always helped and did whatever he was asked, believed that the Federal Security Service could be the consolidating force of the law enforcement authorities for the full-scale work for the benefit of Russia. But quite the opposite thing happened. The Federal Security Service used its force to earn rather then set things right. The ones working with them for a long time were sacrificed for the money, for the orders, and for the “political” interests in criminal cases. By betraying and selling everyone worth anything, the “office” has been fully demoralised because of the commercialisation and unlimited power converted into dollars. I do not understand how ambitious and determined Bortnikov could allow his subordinates do such things. If we come to Rublevka now, we will see the castles of generals the Federal Security Service, who has never worked a single day in business, worth several billion roubles. When was that like? It would be impossible in the times of Patrushev.

Now they are looking for those guilty of the tragic events in Kerch by accusing the American religious sects. Ridiculous! 18-year-old Vladislav Rosliakov, who made a massacre in school, had long been interested in explosives and weapons and had never concealed that. They missed out on that... Because all of them are busy earning money, and anti-terrorism actions end in catching the migrant workers from Uzbekistan, who are detained for the sake of statistics and ranks after weapons and extremist literature are planted. I can see it here, in Lefortovo, they do not even know the word “tritol”, and they had never prayed before their imprisonment. Half of the prisoners of Lefortovo controlled by the Federal Security Service are like that. The others are billionaires or the people like me accused under framed-up cases. When can they work? Colonel General Dorofeev, the Head of the Directorate of the Federal Security Service in Moscow and Moscow Region, had totally missed out on the national conflict in Kondopoga as a Head of the Federal Security Service of Karelia, but he was promoted for his ability to “welcome” his bosses, take them to the sauna as well as other commercial abilities. When General Dorofeev working as the Head of M Directorate gave me the word of an officer of the Federal Security Service that I would be protected from revenge for the arrest of officer of the Prosecutor General’s Office Abrosimov in 2009, he lied and betrayed me together with Tkachev, who then was the Head of the Sixth Service of the Internal Security Directorate of the Federal Security Service. Two billionaire liars. In a few days, the criminal proceedings based on the statement by Graf, the criminal leader, we instituted against me. People! Do not believe the Federal Security Service! Its officers are mostly businessmen and traitors of the Motherland now. It is not the “office” that used to value its principles and honour; they have sold it for dollars.

Just imagine: I draw up a statement to the Director of the Federal Security Service regarding extortion of money from me in exchange for the general support of the highly-ranked officers of the Federal Security Service, who have been accused of corruption. In two months, I get the answer, without any interrogation, any questions about the last names of the corrupted officers and facts (which I can confirm with documents, not one, not two and not even ten), from the subordinates of General of the Federal Security Service Dorofeev, “The facts have not been confirmed.” What is that? Work? Protection? They would be dismissed in any country or even shot down in the USSR at once.

Lieutenant General of the Federal Security Service Komkov, the Head of the Ninth Internal Security Directorate of the Federal Security Service, responded in a peculiar manner, by taking several actions against me by means of the Head of the Sixth Service of the Internal Security Directorate of the Federal Security Service, Colonel Aleksandr Poletaiev, who had drawn up the document. Their powers were to expose corrupted officers in the Federal Security Service, but it turns out they cover them up.

There are also “commercial” officers in one of the most elite units of the Federal Security Service, M Directorate responsible for the MIA, prosecutors, judges and investigators. Tarakanov and Babakov are some of the brightest representatives of the system for earning money in criminal cases.

That day in the prison truck, I was lucky to find out a lot of interesting information about those figures from Dmitrii Zakharchenko, the former Acting Head of T Directorate of the Main Directorate for Economic Security and Anti-Corruption Enforcement of the MIA of the Russian Federation. As it known, a lot of money disappeared from the apartment where ten billion roubles “assigned” to the “billionaire” colonel were kept, and Dmitrii believes that those guys took the money. Moreover, they were to complete that order from the very start. They were paid for elimination of Zakharchenko in order to prevent him from getting the office of the Head of T Department managing the fuel business. These ten billion roubles have the owner, and it is not Dmitrii Zakharchenko. The owner is businessman Nikolai Vladimirovich Razgonov, who filed the claims to the Nikulinskii Court, the Moscow City Court and the Supreme Court and asked to return his money.

Of course, Aleksandr Tolstykh, the “commercial” investigator of the Main Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, does not want to give away so much money, especially given the fact that some of the money is gone, and the official investigation is under way. 

Dmitrii Zakharchenko, a forty-year-old officer of the MIA born in Rostov-on-Don, looks very decent, is dressed very neatly despite his imprisonment, and shaven. His story about the case is reasonable, and he demonstrates iron self-control although he has been in Lefortovo for three years. His elderly father was arrested, his relatives’ property bought in the Soviet times was attached. During the search, his ten-year-old daughter pulled out of bed by the special-force officers of the Federal Security Service had an orthodox cross torn off her chest, and was made to get dressed. The same way as in my case: my daughter Masha was thrown onto the floor, with the loaded gun pointed at her head. My 82-year-old mother’s property, even the apartment and the land plot she had received in the Soviet times, was attached; luckily, she was not imprisoned! Bastards.

I know Tarakanov well owing to Manashirov’s case, when my cell mate was offered to be released from prison in exchange for five million dollars, but he did not agree. Then Tarakanov sent cook Petia with that very telephone. Now all the Lefortovo prisoners keep teasing Petia, “Sell me the telephone!”

Billionaire Kostia Ponomarev, who has the largest fleet of diesel electric generators and won several dozens of billions roubles from the Swiss IKEA group, is not held in the Serpukhov prison after Lefortovo, as I have already said.

Kostia has filed a claim against IKEA to the Swedish court after the criminal case initiated by the Russian “cover-up” of the trade colossus was instituted. Thus, IKEA’s General Manager had to tell there that the “cover-up” was the son of the Colonel General of the Federal Security Service and the Head of the Organisational and HR Work, Evgenii Nikolaevich Lovyrev. Now this bright businessman has to prove he is not a criminal. I have enough examples and facts to write ten novels. This obscure story in the Russian branch is out of character of Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA group and the chairman of the richest charity fund in the world. 

So, we were going back from the Basmannyi court in the prison truck late in the evening picking up all the others from the Moscow courts. The car was overcrowded with the men from different detention centres of the capital city: Butyrka, Vodnik, Medvedkovo and Matrosskaia Tishina. Many of the prisoners recognised me and thanked me for my true-to-life publications about the prisons and courts. 

I found out from 57-year-old Viktor Filatov, an energy engineer from Belgorod accused under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and held in the small special unit of Matroska, that my hospital cell mate Rashid Abdullov, the Minister of Health of Ulianovsk Region, carried out educational activity there and enjoyed great respect. The other hospital cell mate, Andrei Murashev, was transferred to Vodnik. 

I even talked to Kostia Yakubovskii held in Cat’s House, the mental hospital at Butyrka. Kostia told me about conditions in that hospital although I had already heard of the rooms and customary treatment methods from Ergashev and Maksimenko in Lefortovo. 

I read them my address to the residents of Russia regarding the broad amnesty dedicated to the anniversary of the Constitution. Everyone liked it, except for Yakubovskii: he said I should remove information about myself.

The return trip to the detention centre takes several hours, so we can discuss everything. It is the most interesting period for me because I collect materials for my book, lift everyone’s spirits and gain support and good wishes. 


We moved to new cell 65 in the redecorated wing of Lefortovo. It is terrible how the budget funds are stolen in the Federal Penitentiary Service. They have spent tons of money and two years to imitate redecoration of the retention centre, but the new cells are even worse than the old ones. There are fewer coat hangers, the tiles for the toilet’s partition have been laid edgewise; I would tear the builder’s hands off for doing that and Romashin’s hands for accepting such work. New LED TVs do not work, there are only two channels with terrible noises. If foreigners saw that, they would be laughing long. Such terrible quality does not exist in any other godforsaken country. 

By the way, there is public information on the public procurement website on how much budget money is spent by Lefortovo for useless redecoration. There is now an open lot dated 26 September 2018 “Redecoration of Premises” (finishing and redecorating works). The starting price is RUB 100,000,000. The same amount must have been spent for the redecorated wing. The bidding procedure is private, which means the contract needs a license of the Federal Security Service for working with classified information. You can find out neither the scope of work nor the name of the contractor. It is obviously a good scope of abuse, especially with account of what I have seen myself in the “new” cells. 

Another half a million roubles has been spent to draw up design and estimate documents; 1,7 million has been paid to the expert examination company for acceptance of the non-conforming works.

According to the public procurement website, in December 2017, the furniture for the administrative office of the detention centre was purchased for the amount of RUB 874,249.28. Around RUB 425,000-500,000 are annually spent for maintenance of the ventilation systems. However, the ventilation system in our cell 65 hardly worked after the redecoration.

There was a separate bidding procedure for redecoration of the library for the amount of three million roubles.

In other words, despite such huge expenditures, the quality of detention in Lefortovo is extremely low in comparison with the other Moscow prison.

However, Romashin, the head of the second detention centre “Lefortovo”, has a huge LED TV with an excellent antenna, the office of 100 square meters and the rest room while the people are held in seven-meter cells in twos, in breach of the law. A week ago, Lefortovo was attended by Andrei Babushkin, a member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights, who made a bright conclusion on the new cell,

“Human rights are violated in the new cells. Privacy of toilets is not provided for. The partition of a meter and a half covers a person only from the side of the bed, partly only. There is no door in the toilet, and the person answering the call of nature can be seen both by the cell mates and staff. There is no smell protection. Thus, the cells for two people can be treated as a toilet equipped with a table, a bench and two beds.”

I was the first in Andrei Babushkin’s list of three people mentioned by the human rights defender whose rights are infringed on in Lefortovo. When I look at the low-performance work of the staff of the Federal Public Establishment Second Detention Centre “Lefortovo”, it makes my hair stand on end. There are 200 workers and 170 prisoners in the detention centre. More than 100 are the administrative office occupying the area that is twice as big as the prisoners’ cells. Russia is the only thing where such things can happen. Romashin has seven deputies and numerous heads of departments. Their offices are 30 to 40 square meters; one can play football there. 

Governor of Mari El Leonid Markelov, who is an elderly man in need of medical care, ranks second in Babushkin’s list. His republic is the poorest constituent entity in Russia; of course, rich and satisfied governors do not get to Lefortovo. 

I am sure that Lefortovo’s expenditures per prisoner will leave any other prison of the world behind. According to my estimates, the budget per prisoner is ten times bigger that on average in the Federal Penitentiary Service and is around RUB 300,000 per month. Its principal element is salaries of its staff, which are followed by utility bills, security alarm etc. However, as Babushkin writes, “Lefortovo is the prison where rights are violated most of all.” 

The redecoration of the wing is still under way although the prisons are already moving in and walk through and breathe in this dust. 

The entire staff of the Federal Penitentiary Service is 300,000 people, half of whom work in the directorate. It was established as a separate agency by the decree of President Putin in 2004.


In the tsar Russia, the Main Prison Directorate was established in 1879. There were around 100 workers, and 152 thousand roubles were spent annual. Today, the annual budget of the Federal Penitentiary Service is 300 billion roubles for 300,000 staff. These are crazy numbers for such a rich state. Before the revolution, Russia procured that the prisoners were detained in accordance with the European standards. Around 100,000 were held in prison then. Now this number is around million because the average sentence is ten times longer. 

Everyone has heard of the events in Russia in 1825. Five Decemberists were hanged while the others were sentenced to hard labour. In August 1826, Siberia welcomed the Muravevs, Trubetskoi, Volkonskyi, Pushchin and others. 

In 1838, Nicholas I ordered to give 200 roubles per year to those exiled prisoners who received nothing from their relatives. There were vegetable gardens at hard-labour prisons. In Chita prison, the table was common: a huge bowl of cabbage soup, a plate with pieces of beef, butter and porridge with butter were brought for lunch. Food was simple, but satisfying and healthy. 

In Chita prison, the Decemberists plied a trade: they tailored clothes, did carpentry and book binding. The Bestuzhev brothers knitted stockings. Nikolai Bestuzhev found unexpected talents in himself: he made shoes, fixed watches, made different figures out of wood, used irons to make rings, crosses and bracelets and sent them to his acquaintances. Those rings covered in a thin layer of gold were very popular among the Siberian ladies. 

Many Decemberists studied languages; fortunately, there were text books. “When your thoughts flow away to your Motherland, the door will suddenly open, and the youth will rush into the room, dancing mazourka and clanking with their irons. Those who wanted solitude for their hobbies had little tents outside near the fence. There were common readings and lessons to avoid disturbance: there were people for that in prison.”

Yushkovskii was an excellent piano player, and Vadkovskii played the violin.

Seven brave women, the Decemberists’ wives and brides, came to Chita in some time. Then it was allowed to leave in apartments with wives. 

The confinement conditions for criminals were much stricter. Gipsies were imprisoned for stealing horses, the Caucasians were generally convicted of robbery, and the Jews were guilty of smuggling. Other robbers were also Kyrgyzs (almost all the present-day residents of Central Asia were called that way then). In most cases, women were convicted of arson and infanticide.

In 1897, Lenin was sent to Minusinsk, where there were quite many exiled people of different political views. Lenin asked to transfer him to another place, and the district police office in Minusinsk suggested Shushenskoe, 56 versts to the south of Minusinsk. It was a big village ruled by the sergeant major, with a school, a church and three barrel houses. The countrymen in Shushenskoe were quite wealth, some of them had up to a hundred arpents of land, two hundred cattle and thousands of sheep.

Ulyanov settled down in the spacious country house; the food in the village was cheap. Lenin could buy as much lamb and vegetables as he wished. 

Nadezhda Krupskaya wrote, “We have come to Shushenskoe, and I am fulfilling my promise to write what Volodia looks like. It seems to me he looks much healthier and better in comparison with what he was like in Saint Petersburg.”

Vladimir Ulyanov treated the locals with indifference. The only person he paid attention to was countryman Ermolaev, who took him hunting and fishing. Piles of lies about his long conversations with the countrymen and participation in their life will be written later.

In May 1898, Nadezhda Krupskaya and her mother came, and she and Ulyanov were married in Shushenskoe Church in July. 

There was also a good apartment, with three rooms and a kitchen, on the bank of the Shusha. The young wife started their family life, “Half a house with the vegetable garden has been rented for four roubles. Family life has started... I have hired the girl, who now helps my mother around the house and does all the spade work. We are going to plant vegetables next year. Volodia has already agreed to dig garden beds. He will have a chance to exercise.”

The young family got the state allowance of eight roubles, which was more than enough for food and the apartment. 

Joseph Jughashvili (Stalin) was exiled six times: to Eastern Siberia (1903), to Solvychegodsk (1908), to Solvychegodsk again (the same year), to Vologda (1911), to Narym Territory (1912) and to Turukhan Territory (1913). He escaped from all the places except for the last one.

Commissioner Kibirov in Turukhan sent the new exiled man to the small village of Kureika, twenty versts from the polar circle. The village (rather a wintering place made of three houses) was located at the feeder of the Yenisei, the Kureika River. It was impossible to survive without fishing there, so Stalin got the nets, trawl lines and traps and caught fish under ice and dried it. It was harder to stock wood for winter: he had to cut trees, saw them into pieces and bring them home.

It was impossible to escape from Kureika. Stalin lived alone and probably needed no communication. When his friend Suren Spandarian was exiled to the Village of Monastyrskoe, he rarely visited Stalin. When the February revolution started, Stalin was in exile. 


I have got a bit distracted... In Lefortovo, just like in all the other prisons, I wake up at 5 a.m. the same way as I always did at home. This time is most efficient, especially when there are many people in the cell. The table is unoccupied, the TV is off, everyone sleeps and does not talk as they do in the afternoon, and there are no wardens and bosses with inspections and papers. 

I had an idea in the morning... Why have I written about exile, hard labour and prisons where such great people as Lenin, Stalin and the Decemberists were held? Probably, to soothe myself with the thought that many famous people have been in prison. The comparison with the tsar Russia appeared in my mind after General of the Federal Penitentiary Service Moroz had asked me to prepare the executive summary on how to reform the confinement facilities. That is why I am trying to compare our ugly penitentiary system with the practices of the other countries, the USSR and Russia before the revolution. To find the best practices that can be implemented. 

My wife came to see me on Friday, on 19 October. Of course, it was quite an event, especially in Lefortovo, where everyone suffers from lack of communication except for trips to the court. Yulia is incredibly beautiful. Every time I look at her I wonder how she manages to look so go with four children. 

In the morning, I went for a walk. In Lefortovo, just like in any other prison, the walking yards are located on the roof, but their area is a bit smaller than in the other detention centres, 10 to 12 square meters. The huge loud-hailers (loud speakers) are directed at you, and very loud music is played to prevent conversations between people from different cells. It is done this way in all the prisons except for the walking yards in the hospital in Matrosskaia Tishina, where there are no loud speakers at all. Actually, they would be of no use because the prisoners can see each other and talk while waiting to see a nurse or a doctor. Music in Lefortovo is deafening, and they have started to play Autoradio (I do not think it is for free) for some reason. There is more advertising than music, and we are tortured by hygiene pads and Moscow taxi services, which are fast and comfortable, while the pads are obviously dry. I was in high spirits while I was waiting for Yulia, so I started singing and clapping when I heard Queen and my favourite album News of the World, which had ranked first in all the hit parades in 1977 with my favourite song We Will Rock You, which I had performed three years ago at the Youth Ball in the Palace of Sport “Nadezhda”. The prison guard rushed to me at once,

“Stop singing! It is against the rules!”

“I am singing ten times quieter than your loud-hailer,” I objected.

Every time I come I ask to remove the loud speaker so that my ear drums would not burst, but my request is mostly ignored. Many prison wardens came, and I was taken away from the walk, with a promise to place me into the isolation cell. I did not ruin my good mood, I changed my clothes and went to the meeting.

The meeting room in Lefortovo is much cleaner and cosier, but, as Babushkin has written, there is only one for 170 prisoners, while there are ten times as many benches and tables for the maintenance staff of 20 people. Paradox! It is obvious that the senior executives of the detention centre complicates the life for the Federal Security Service’s “clients” on purpose at the taxpayers’ expense, the same way as it does with the attorney rooms, which are allegedly always busy. People’s and public enemies!

The man and the woman in the camouflage uniform of the Federal Penitentiary Service sat right next to my wife and made notes on what we discussed, despite numerous video cameras and audio recorders. Actually, it is forbidden to record conversations, for instance, in the attorney room, but the “Federal Security Service’s bunker” does not give a damn about the laws, there is equipment of ten kilos under each table, and the cameras have such resolution that, as Denis Tumarkin, a famous prisoner of Lefortovo, told me even dots on his wife’s manicured nails could be seen through the microscope. 

“Could you sit a bit farther? Your faces embarrass me. May be, I will talk to my wife about sex,” I asked.

“You cannot discuss sex,” the woman in the spotted jumper responded seriously. 

“She is my wife, and it is an integral part of the marital life,” I insisted.

“You can only discuss prison confinement conditions,” her colleague supported.

Of course, purity in the meeting rooms was faded because of such “mates” and stupid comments. I and Yulia decided to ask the investigator to allow the meeting with my junior children in Lefortovo because Matvei and Grisha, who were easy to impress, would have stuttered al their life after a visit to Matrosskaia Tishina with its interiors similar to horror movies. Anyway, the meeting room is very nice.

Yulia laughed a lot and told me that as soon as she had come, all the senior executives rushed and took it in turns to tell her how bad my behaviour was.

“I felt like a bully’s mum at the parents’ meeting at school,” my wife shared her impressions. “They said your alone were the source of many more problems that other 170 prisoners.”

I recollected the famous book The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry.

“Demand a ransom to take me home,” I made a joke.

“I have been suffering from your for 20 years, so it is their turn to know it first-hand. You have been here for two months, and they are already weeping,” my wife continued my joke.

Governor Vorobev is in Moscow Region now, and he finally feels like a real master and king; Shestun was a pain in the ass, and this “efficient manager” has got rid of the “rebel”.

“Now he is the Federal Security Service’s and Lefortovo’s problem!” the corrupted from the governor’s team are definitely pleased.

Of course, one hour is not enough to communicate with the person you love; I wanted to hug or at least touch her.

“Please let us hug each other! I will be good, stop demanding you to adhere to the law and writing complaints,” I asked.

“You can’t! First be good, and then we will see,” the prison warden claimed.

OK, a la guerre comme a la guerre: when I came back to the cell, I started writing letters about the violations in Château d'If and its overseers from the Federal Security Service with the triple energy.

Mass arrests in Serpukhov District, threats to detain my attorneys and their discharge, institution of additional criminal proceedings against me, – all these things let me off the leash. I remembered Yulia’s comparison with the parents’ meeting and decided I would be a very bad boy.

During the weekend, I wrote around 30 statements about tortures in Lefortovo and corruption in the Federal Security Service. Also, I exercised for two hours and a half every day, slept and ate. I spent all the other time, at least 20 hours, writing. Every time, my rhetoric turns rougher: let my death be spectacular!

Head of the detention centre Romashin has started a real hunt at me in pursuance of the orders of the Federal Security Service and investigators. His fury grows stronger due to my complaints against Lefortovo and court actions. Several days ago, the Lefortovskyi Court dismissed by statement of claim regarding illegal actions by Romashin, who had refused to admit the notary for my pre-election campaign. “The most humane court” supporting the government as usual did not even try to explain its stance or listen to my attorneys’ arguments. It just dismissed the claim. A common thing... We will definitely appeal from this decision, which has not entered into force, but the senior executives of Lefortovo are already celebrating their victory, despite the fact that they have grossly breached several laws and Constitution of the Russian Federation. I know they were afraid to lose... 

Now I am taken for a walk by three prison guards, who record any conversation with me with “Shestun’s personal camera” they transfer to each other. They look into the cell through the eyelet every ten minutes. They have locked my window although it is very hot in the cell, my mate Fazliddin smokes, and the air extraction system in the new cells is definitely a hundred times worse than in the old ones, where the extraction system has been working properly since the tsar times. Now the cell is filled with blueish cigarette smoke.

Dozens of millions roubles have been spent for the new ventilation system, but it is much worse. Why doesn’t Colonel General Gennadii Kornienko, the Director of the Federal Penitentiary Service, conduct an inspection based on this fact? He has at least four deputy generals sitting in their offices in Zhitnaia Street in Moscow with huge salaries and long-legged secretaries: Lieutenant General Anatolii Rudyi, Lieutenant General Valerii Maksimenko, Lieutenant General Valerii Boiarinev, Rustam Stepanenko (the only deputy with no rank), and Major General Aleksandr Khabarov. They must work off their incredible salaries!

My dear readers, please forgive me for the long boring list of violations in the Russian detention centre with the biggest expenditures. For instance, why does a new fridge supplied to the wing of Lefortovo after the major repairs have no shelves inside? Why don’t new TV sets work? Why have the tiles been laid so bad? I would have torn off the hands of those who finished and painted the walls. Moreover, the cost of the redecoration is three times higher than the commercial price. The radio sets in all the new cells in the detention centre have no sound regulation. The floor is covered with spots of paint, cement and coating. The table for two is too small even for one person. I cannot buy drinking water in the store fore three weeks because it works once a month (unlike the other detention centres where the store works every day), and it is forbidden to send water in parcels. I make an arrangement to see the doctor, but I am not taken there. I make an arrangement to see the librarian, but he does not come. The daily routine is violated all the time, they come whenever they want; lunch or dinner can be brought an hour later or not be brought at all. The toilet is one meter from the dining table, which is against the hygiene rules. The area of the cell is 7.8 square peters, which is less than four square meters per person in accordance with the law. An attorney can see the prisoner only once a month although Lefortovo has many more premises than the other prisons. According to the Constitution, the Criminal Procedural Code and Law 103-ФЗ “On the Detention in Custody”, I have the right to daily meetings with the attorneys. My belongings are not given back from the warehouse. The plainly refuse. For instance, I cannot get my hair brush and washing powder for three weeks. I cannot even get a pen from these bastards. The Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the comments, complaints and letters are also not given back without any explanation. I have filed three applications for the personal meeting with Romashin to eliminate the above violations, but they have been ignored. A good example is Pozdeev, the Head of the First Detention Centre “Matrosskaia Tishina”, who has 2,500 prisoners rather than 170 like Lefortovo does, and he comes and tries to resolve all the issues whenever possible. Colonel Papusha, the Head of Vodnik Detention Centre, also does not behave as impudently as Romashin does although he has a dozen as many prisoners. But the Head of Lefortovo is an officer of the Federal Security Service and can even afford torturing the prisoners and other abuse.

The redecoration in the new wing took two years!!! Such works could be easily done in two or three months. They are still raising dust and drilling while we have to breathe in there. Moreover, they can easily work after the lights are off at 10 p.m.

When the attorney manages to get into this lair, I am searched at the door to the attorney room for more than an hour, all the documents are taken out of the folders, and I am even made to take off my socks; the precious time of the rare meeting with the attorney is wasted. By the way, attorneys are also searched thoroughly.

New cell 65 overlooks the nine-storey building which blocks the sunlight completely, but I can look at the ordinary free life out of the window. When the window was open, in the morning we could often see a girl in the bra cooking breakfast n the kitchen or a woman smoking on her balcony in the evening.

In Matrosskaia Tishina, a girl would sit with a cigarette and iPhone on the balcony in the five-storey building nearby opposite our cell window. Her gown was usually undone, which definitely raised an interest of all the men discussing the size, colour and quality of the naked part of the body. Of course, the girl could know nothing about the attention focused on her, but she still would not button up her gown.




Светлана Астраханцева
Нам выпало время, когда белое становится черным, а черное – белым…
Григорий Михнов-Вайтенко
Пример Шестуна – это пример в истории, я бы сказал. Чаще всего такой человек предпочитает тихо и незаметно, извините за выражение, отползти в угол, и очень редко, когда вступает на путь правдорубца.
Людмила Улицкая
Понимание и попытка разрешения "мусорной" проблемы вызвали конфликт Шестуна с властью. Не просто с властью, а с самым сердцем нашей власти - с ФСБ. Люди должны встать на защиту Александра Шестуна. И к этому я призываю.

Записки Шестуна