Наверх

REBELLIOUS PRISONER. CHAPTER EIGHT

HELLO, MATROSKA

HELLO, MATROSKA

24.08.18

05:40 p.m. They are taking me from Matroska to Lefortovo. I cannot believe it. I have collected all my stuff and hurry to the car. There will probably traffic jams in Moscow. They have put me into small Gazel prison truck. I am accompanied by therapist Illia from Lefortovo’s medical unit who has been examining me day by day. I have got used to this hard working and young doctor. It will be my fourth place of detention for two months and a half. First it was the temporary detention centre at Petrovka, then Vodnik, then Lefortovo, and finally Matrosskaia Tishina.

Today is the twenty-sixth day of the hunger strike, and it is no use refusing from food in hospital: here I have not been deprived of the right to meet my attorney, of the right to a power of attorney for the election, so there is nothing to prove here. These were two key requests of my hunger strike. I can be terminating the hunger strike little by little unless I am placed into the quarantine cell, and if I have a change to get natural juices.

We arrived in about thirty minutes, which seemed like express delivery by the VIP taxi. The way from Vodnik to Lefortovo took three or four hours at 40 degrees.

When leaving the cell, I hugged Roma Manashirov and said I would pray for him. His sentence will be read out next Monday, and I will ask God to give him no more than eight years at the minimum-security prison. Manashirov has spent three years in Lefortovo, and if you are sentenced to the minimum-security prison, a year in the detention centre is equal to a year and a half. It means he has already been imprisoned for four years and a half, and he can be released on parole after a half of the sentence. If it is the high-security prison, he may be released on parole only after two third of his imprisonment, and a year in the detention centre does not equal a year and a half. These are our strange dreams and prayers, mine and my prison friend Roma’s...

***

When I was brought to Matrosskaia Tishina on a pleasant sunny August evening, I saw the freshly-painted walls of all the buildings and the surfaced road. The evening sun emphasised the shape of the building with its flowing rays, and I kept looking around in amazement until the wardens shouted at me.

It was not that tidy inside where they documented my arrival, took photos and fingerprints, but politeness and simplicity of the staff in the first detention centre won me over at once and improved the impression left by the indented walls with the missing pieces of plaster.

An officer of the operational department took me to the separate office for the conversation at once. Sergei Ershov, the senior lieutenant of the internal service, a very young man of around 25, left a long and lasting impression with his simplicity and openness. I had never seen such tactful and polite prison wardens. He had recently graduated from the Vladimir University of Law; probably, he had not acquired the negative manners of this unpleasant service yet. Actually, the local detainees have quite an unflattering opinion on him. They say the bait hides the hook.

All the officers of the Federal Penitentiary Service are from other cities. The salary is low, the working conditions are hard and unpleasant, and everyone is dissatisfied with you, including detainees, their families, supervising prosecutors, and the Federal Security Service and the Investigative Committee, which put lots of officers behind the bars, including the senior executives. Oleg Korshunov, the Deputy Director of the Federal Penitentiary Service, is still in Lefortovo while the Director himself, Reimer, is already in the prison settlement. Human rights defenders have the right to enter any time to check any documents. No other law enforcement authority will allow community activists to interfere with its operations, but the Federal Penitentiary Service is the most humiliated entity in our country. That is why there is shortage of staff in all prisons and prison settlements, which affects the prisoners’ quality of life. For instance, there has been no walk in Matroska today because there is only one warden, so he is physically unable to take us outside although such a walk is our legal right. For example, those held in the Mozhaisk Prison are not taken for a walk for weeks because of such shortage of staff.

I like the hospital inside at once: the attitude of doctor Ravil Umraliev executing documents at the entrance, conduct of the guards and wardens who did not niggle, and the elevator. Finally, when I entered the cell, I was blinded by the pink walls, white bathroom equipment, a new big fridge, a modern TV with the good antenna, a large light window, and modern floor tiles. How little a human needs. The cell was about 17 or 18 square meters for three people and had single-bunk beds. It felt like a suite after the seven-meter “hole” in Lefortovo. The neighbours fully conformed to the quality of the premises. I am lucky to meet good people!

Rashid Abdullov is the Minister of Health in Ulianovsk, who held that office for a year only. Before that, Rashid had been working as the chief medical officer in the children’s hospital of Ulianovsk for 14 years. He built his career from the children’s surgeon to the chief medical officer without any help form his parents, who had died when he studied in the Samara Institute. 

Chairman of the Government of Ulianovsk Region Aleksandr Smekalin offered him the office of the Minister to street the medicine out of the crisis. The district hospitals had their accounts attached because of the huge arrears, and Adbullov was in fact an anti-crisis manager working day and night. He sorted out the mess in the healthcare facilities, developed the anti-crisis plan, found the shortage of funds, and established the new team of the ministry in the industry.

On 17 June 2018, there were sudden searches in his home and at work, with no attorney allowed. He was accused of creating conditions for joint procurement of medicinal products from Ulianovskfarmatsiia JSC, 100 % of which were owned by the Property Department of Ulianovsk Region. The investigators believe that the price of oxygen was overestimated during the procurement. The criminal proceedings based on Part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation were instituted. The paradox is that the bidding procedures had been carried out since 2014 in accordance with resolution of the government of Ulianovsk Region and by the order of the former Minister. The ministry had the official receiver with the authority to sign while Rashid himself had never signed a single document or carried out any bidding procedure, but had allegedly given oral instructions.

It is an exact copy of my criminal case, when I was accused of the resolution I had not signed, the absolutely legal one that had been verified by the courts. The form of the bidding procedures itself does not provide for any fixed price of any goods. There were no restrictions for bidders in Ulianovsk, and the price was the market value.

During the ultimately tough search, fifty-year-old Rashid had a blood stroke, lost consciousness and was taken to the crisis care centre by ambulance. In three weeks, Abdullov was taken to the Basmannyi Court after he had been convoyed from Ulianovsk to Moscow by plane, accompanied by the officers of the Federal Security Service, which may not done after the blood stroke under any circumstances. The patient with such diagnosis cannot be transported by air for at least six months. His blood pressure was 180 by 120 at the court session in the Basmannyi Court, but he was denied home arrest. He fainted during the court session and was taken to the crisis care centre at the prison hospital.

Why does the government injure such reputable people? How are victims selected? There is no answer. 

25.08.2018

Peter the Great established the sailors’ settlement on the right bank of the Yauza. The street parallel to the river was named after that fact (“matros” means “sailor” in Russian). As old sailors lived there in the times of Catherine the Great, they started calling the house the sailors’ one. The residents of the city tried to protect piece and quiet of the elderly citizens and drove past the poor-house quietly (“tishina” means “quiet” in Russian). So one more word was added to the name of the street. And now it is called Matrosskaia Tishina. The prison, which the people called Matrosskaia Tishina, appeared here later. It dates back to 1775. The house for “those too daring” was established there by the order of Catherine the Great, under the aegis of the governor institution, the Public Assistance Order. Now it is a detention centre. In fact, it existed in its initial form for a comparatively short period of time. It had been renamed as the Moscow Correctional Facility by 1870. The new facility could accommodate 150 women and 300 men. The purpose of the prison was “to give the thugs a job”. In their turn, the thugs were prisoners, including minor criminals, thieves and fraudsters. 

The area of the correctional facility was gradually increased.

There were detached houses in Matrosskaia Tishina Street then. My grandmother Lidiia Kirilovna Vasina was born in one of the houses on 4 April 1908. She lived there until she was four. In 1912, construction of the tramway and Rusakov depot started, and her house was demolished. 

In 1912, architect Boris Alberti designed and constructed the new prison buildings. The prison hospital was established in the redecorated and reconstructed buildings of the former housing facilities for the prison staff. The facility is used not only by Matrosskaia Tishina, but also by all the detention centres of Moscow, and has around 706 beds.

Matrosskaia Tishina is composed of seven buildings. The total area of the facility is 41,438 square meters. The initial maximum number of detainees to be held in the detention centre was 200 people. The purpose of the detention centre was to hold the people requiring strict supervision in custody during the investigative actions and litigation. 

In 2001, based on the international standards as to the area per detainee, the number of detainees was limited. Unfortunately, the standards are actually not met. According to the official data, the detention centre can accommodate 2013 people, but the real numbers exceed this value by 21.3 % and are 2441 people.

In addition to the first detention centre, there are seven more detention centres in Moscow. The most famous include Butyrka and Lefortovo. 

The list of the famous prisoners who did their time in Matrosskaia Tishina is quite long. They include Soviet political figures Gennadii Ianaev and Dmitrii Iazov, businessmen Platon Lebedev and Mikhail Khodorkovskii, Sergei Mavrodi, criminal leader Viacheslav Ivankov (also called Iaponchik), Sergei Magnitskii, film director Kirill Serebrennikov, Mayor of Yaroslavl Evgenii Urlashov and many others. 

About a year ago, there was information about the considerable redundancy of the staff of the Federal Penitentiary Service. As a result, the wardens working in the first detention centre felt uneasy. As some officers of the Federal Penitentiary Service confessed, their job got simply dangerous because of the reduced numbers of wardens. It is clear under such conditions that many years will have to be spent to bring the Russian prisons to the world standards.

Matrosskaia Tishina is located to the east from the centre of Moscow, on the bank of the Yauza. It is a large detention centre where about 2500 people are held in custody. For instance, there are 150 to 200 people in Lefortovo, and a bit more than 1000 in Vodnik. There is also Kremlevskii Tsentral, special unit 99/1 on the fourth floor, here. That superstructure was built by Lavrentii Beria for Nikolai Ezhov because there were lots of people loyal to the latter in Lefortovo. This building is not subordinated to the head of the prison, Sergei Pozdeev. 

The same way as in Vodnik, there are different security conditions here. The sixth building has the highest security level: no telephones, no “roads” and other forbidden items, but there is a shower in the cell, polite wardens and daily walks. Cells are not overcrowded; they are sometimes empty.

There is a large special unit, which is overcrowded and has no shower, but telephones and other freedoms are allowed. As a rule, mafia enforcers are held there. There is no baron of crime in Matrosskaia Tishina now. 

The cells in the special unit of the fourth building (small special unit) have no shower, but there is a gym; in comparison with the sixth building, there is much more freedom. 

Most detainees have the ordinary confinement conditions: there are seventeen people in a cell, which is more than it is supposed to be by half. It means they take it in turns to sleep and go to the bathroom. Of course, the real classic prison and criminal rules flourish in the cells.

This detention centre has the only specialised hospital in Moscow, with very good medical equipment: modern ultrasonic equipment, gastrofibroscopy, a new radiograph, qualified specialists and decent supplies of medicinal products.

***

Another cell mate, 39-year-old Andrei Murashev, a lawyer and the head of the public procurement department of the Federal Agency for Air Transport, also has a terrible story of arrest. He was detained before the election and subsequent changes in the government. The investigator of the Investigative Committee explained that he had to bear testimony against Director of the Federal Agency for Air Transport Neradko to be released. They failed to force the necessary testimony before the presidential election, and the interest in Murashev was lost after the new appointments. On 27 February 2018, Andrei was summoned to the Investigative Transport Directorate of the Investigative Committee again and detained during the interrogation. At midnight, he was taken to the temporary detention centre at Petrovka, but on the way there he was brought to the police detention centre at the Yaroslavskii Station, where he stayed until the morning hours in the iron cage meter by meter, with no place to sit. The European Court of Human Rights treats such attitude as torture. 

He was served charges: Andrei was allegedly bribed in 2012, according to the testimony by Vera Ivakhina, the Director of Virazh LLC, which supplied two training helicopters Eurocopter A-350 B2 to the flight school the same year. It turned out that Ivakhina was detained in 2015 by the law enforcement officers when she was encashing the budget funds from the Lipetsk Regional Administration, but since she had seven minor children, they did not arrest her in exchange for the testimony against all the partners she knew. In February 2018, Ivakhina claimed in her testimony that she had bribed Murashev in 2012 in the building of Uriuk Restaurant in the airport. The building was demolished a year and a half ago. The investigators have no other evidence except for her words. The common practice is that courts work like a conveyor, and lack of evidence is not an obstacle to imprisonment for ten to fifteen years. 

I found out about the new pieces of this story from the another person who had suffered from the slander by Vera Ivakhina: it was Vladimir Borisov whom I met in the corridors of the hospital at Matrosskaia Tishina. Borisov has been admitted to the hospital from the small special unit (the fourth building of Matrosskaia Tishina). Vladimir Yurevich chairs the aviation service in the Russian Federal Space Agency, and this corporation has no claims against him despite the arrest. Before that, he had been the director of the Moscow Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovskyi for many years. In 2011 to 2014, Borisov and Vera Ivakhina co-founded (50 by 50) Virazh LLC; the latter also held the office of the director general.

According to Vladimir Yurevich, the surprising “activity” by Ivakhina was caused by the fact that Vera’s common-law husband, Aleksandr Yurevich Burdanov, had killed the twenty-five-year-old employee of Virazh LLC, Stanislav Kustov, out of jealousy at night on 16 September. Vera Ivakhina used all her ties in the Lipetsk Regional Administration to save her common-law husband from criminal prosecution. The proceedings based on the murder of Kustov were suspended by the request of the Head of Usman Administration, Vladimir Mikhailovich Mazo, and the Vice Governor of Lipetsk Region, Yurii Nikolaevich Bozhko, to whom she had provided services of encashing budget funds. 

The proceedings were terminated due to “absence of Kustov’s body” despite the fact that Burdanov had hidden the body in the natural reserve, not far from Ivakhina’s workshop where light air planes Sigma were assembled.

Now Igor Rudakov, the investigator of the Investigative Transport Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, and V. M. Plotnikov, the criminal investigator, who know about the crime, use Ivakhina as a tool to defame Vladimir Borisov, Andrei Murashev and the other persons the investigators need to frame up criminal cases against Director of the Federal Agency for Air Transport Aleksandr Neradko.

At the same time, Ivakhina, who has been accused of the bribe in an especially large amount (Article 291 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and fraud (Part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) has not been detained, and no pre-trial restriction, at least a travel restriction has been imposed on her. Her common-law husband Burdanov and older children are hiding in Paphos on Cyprus, where they have their own house and restaurant. The mystery is how the investigators permitted Aleksandr Burdanov, the former active member of the Orekhovo gang who was suspected of the murder, to go abroad.

It turns out that all my cell mates have one thing in common: there is no evidence, and the crime itself is proven by nothing but words. 

Kubasai Kubasaev, the Head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service in the Republic of Dagestan, – the bribe taken long time ago according to the witness. Billionaire Manashirov – the bribe five years ago according to Zhan Rafailov accused of the especially grave crime under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, with the proceedings terminated right after he had borne testimony against Manashirov. Andrei Murashev – the bribe taken six years ago according to Vera Ivakhina accused of encashing budget funds. Finally, me – in connection with the resolution issued eight years ago, which had been verified by the courts and investigators many times. That is why we have not been show on TV for a long time how public officials or oligarchs with suitcases full of bribes are seized, or how banknotes are demonstrated in a fan-like manner. It is not necessary anymore. Courts arrest people without account of circumstances, often with no telephone calls “from above”. In 99 % of cases, suspects are offered a plea bargain or simplified procedure: you confess and get half a prison sentence. Just imagine the level of degradation of the law enforcement system! No adversarial system can be expected from our courts. All this concept can do is make you smile, and these are the main principles of justice in Russia.

There are 0.3 % of verdicts of non-guilty, which means that you can bear testimony against anyone and say he got a bribe many years ago, and he will be put behind the bars at once. Several years ago, the case based on Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Bribe” was heard by the jury at the request of the accused, and such cases would fall apart in court, the jury acquitted the detainees just like in movies, so the law enforcement authorities lobbied cancellation of such litigation.

My mind and soul cry out, “Why?! Who needed to imprison well-educated Andrei Murashev?! What does the state want to get?! Why does the man with excellent expertise have to rot in the inhumane conditions at Matrosskaia Tishina and be deprived of the chance to see his four-year-old son?! What’s the idiotic practice of holding people in custody until the court verdict and never interrogate them in six months?!” Let alone the fact that the budget spends at least 40,000 roubles per detainee, less capital expenses for construction of prisons, surveillance equipment, convoy as well as work of courts, prosecutors and investigators.

27.08.2018

Two days-off in the pink cell I had enjoyed were over, and, as expected, there was a flow of troubles all around. Life always goes along the sinusoidal wave, so I was totally sure there would be trouble on Monday. In the beginning, when I went to the doctor, I was asked at once who had brought three sausages into my cell, and how many I had eaten. Elena Molokova, the acting chief medical officer of medical unit 77 of the Federal Penitentiary Service, made a phone call in my presence and said the general had already informed that I was subject to maximum control, and my stay there would be as short as possible. In fact, three sausages had been brought to our cell 726 that day, but the recipient was Rashid Abdullov, not me. Of course, I had not eaten any sausages, which I could eat in a month at best. Unfortunately, the doctors of the Federal Penitentiary Service did not care about my health. The only thing they were worried about was not to be punished by the senior executives for such a troublesome patient. I was said off the record that I could not expect the full cycle of treatment and would be returned to Lefortovo in two or three weeks or may be even faster. Then I was taken for the ultrasonic examination. The warden did not leave me in the common chamber where the detainees waited for their doctor and communicated with each other. I was taken to a separate room. The warden said he had never had such instructions before.

Then attorney Andrei Grivtsov came and said that three more criminal cases had been opened against me based on the following articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation: 159 “Fraud”, 289 “Illegal Participation in Entrepreneurship” and 174.1 “Money Laundering”. That way, the investigators decided to accuse the founder of Tsentr LLC, Boris Krivodubskii, and the director of Tsentr LLC, Sergei Samsonov, of the same episode based on Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, in addition to me.

Opening four criminal cases based on the same episode is quite a doubtful practice. Then why not ten or twenty? How can one action be abuse of power and fraud at the same time? It is either this or that, and the investigator must decide what exactly I had done wrong in the resolution issued eight years ago. 

I should say the news was quite unexpected as the abuse of power was totally ungrounded. The effect was Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation is of much wider range and is called the “people’s article”. Moreover, investigator Roman Vidiukov informed Grivtsov that there would be several other criminal cases based on other episodes under Article 159, and that I would be brought back to Lefortovo after the hospital treatment.

Today Iulia had a hearing in the regional court where she is appealing her withdrawal from the election for the office of the Head of Serpukhov District. Maybe, I will find out the result tomorrow although it is hard to expect anything when you know what resources are against us. First of all, I have been withdrawn form the election as I was arrested on the day of announcement thereof. Then Iulia was neutralised. Moreover, the voting stations in Kurilovo are being liquidated although the local residents have not been notified 70 days in advance, as prescribed by the law. Notification was made only 30 days before the liquidation. There is nothing they are afraid of. They want to transfer Kurilovo to Kaluga Region. Also, if Iulia defends her right in the Supreme Court, 99 % of the residents of this military garrison will vote for her as they know our stance: people are not slaves and should not be transferred to Kaluga until their opinion is asked. Apartments in Kurilovo will be twice as cheap as they used to be, salaries of civil service workers, including school, kindergarten and outpatient clinic, will also go down more than twice, and people simply do not like to be treated as material by the public officials. 

When they meet Iulia, many residents cry, and she has to console them. In fact, the cruelty accompanying the present-day situation is beyond understanding. Nobody believes the charges pressed by the investigators are objective, and everyone, including old people, understand that this is abuse of power in the worst form.

28.08.2018

When I was leaving the doctor’s office yesterday, I met billionaire Vadim Varshavskii, who had visited our district many times. I last saw him a year ago, when Nikolai Dizhur invited his university mates from the Mining Institute in Kliukva v Sakhare Restaurant in Drakino Park. I was surprised to here that he had also been imprisoned by Ivan Tkachev. The world is a small place...

The members of the public monitoring commission do not visit me here. Eva Merkacheva is not admitted to Matrosskaia Tishina after her scorching article about the VIP cells in the detention centre, and the other members are on holiday. I might see Anna Karetnikova, the senior analytical specialist of the Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Moscow, who had taken care of me and other detainees in Vodnik. 

She does care about detainees like mother, and even camouflage emphasises her slim body and good culture. Anna Georgievna could not come to Lefortovo because the detention centre was directly subordinated to the central administrative office of the Federal Penitentiary Service. I do miss this charming woman who has saved many souls.

We have had a chance to sunbathe in the morning on the hospital roof, where we have a daily walk, for the second day running. The weather is wonderful this year, I do not remember another warm summer like that. I have been sunbathing half-naked for two days, and I am happy. Direct sun light is a rare thing in walking yards, so we are lucky here. I have enjoyed the last change to get a tan for more than an hour. The summer is coming to an end. While bathing in the sunlight, I thought, “People need so little to be happy! Why didn’t you appreciate it before?”

You start perceiving many things in a different manner...

Five minutes after I had written about Anna Karetnikova, she entered our pink cell. I had a hard time restraining myself from shaking hands with her, like I did with Kogershyn and Eva. Anna Georgievna is an official from the Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Moscow, and there must be distance for her own safety. It turned out she had been reading about all the troubles of my detention in Lefortovo in my publications. Also, I described in detail the things that could not be written about that horrible and gloomy place.

That day, Karetnikova got around Moscow by metro, so she did not wear camouflage. She wore a T-shirt and a leopard vest. She put down the my cell mates Andrei’s and Rashid’s problems in detail, took the log and make corresponding entries at once. Andrei Murashev resolved his key problem he had been fighting for several months. He had not been given a list of complaints against the investigator’s actions so that he could confirm the fact of dispatch thereof in court. So my stay was not only troublesome, but also beneficial for my mates.

Iurii Ledov, the accompanying officer from the Federal Penitentiary Service, asked,

“What’s the strange bright yellow sealant in the shower tub?”

My former mate form the pink cell Viktor Abrosichkin cut the wax off the cheese sent by his relatives, melted it with a match and used to fill the cracks so that water would not leak down. 

Viktor Abrosichkin, the Director of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Stroitelnoe Obedinenie” at the Interior Policy Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation, entered into the public contract for reconstruction of the building of the Presidential Executive Office of the Russian Federation on 11 September 2009 and, as the investigators suppose, did not carry out all the repair works. The proceedings based on Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation were instituted against him. 

Viktor Ivanovich will turn 67 soon, and he is terminally ill, but, according to Resolution of the Government No. 3, the medical opinion on the inability to be held in custody is given only “a day before death”. There are dozens of thousands prisoners dying of chronic diseases in prisons and prison settlements and only few people who have been released based on the medical opinion.

Before the election of the Mayor of Moscow and the Governor of Moscow Region, Viktor Ivanovich suggested to set the condition to the senior executive of the detention centre: we would not vote unless we were taken for a walk at the weekend. The source of his skills of political struggle for his rights was obvious: he had been working at the Interior Policy Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation for may years. By the way, it worked...

29.08.2018

Many detainees at Matrosskaia Tishina recognise me, come up, say the words of support, and tell me their stories. If I keep records about everything, there will be a collected edition. All the stories are different, with some incredibly exotic cases. When you have no pen, it is not worth writing about serious things without firm proof and facts, last names and titles. As a rule, people tell only their part of the truth, but when you start asking about the charges, they are not so eager to talk about that.

This morning, after I had taken a blood test, I met Iura Kornyi, a blogger from Lefortovo, who had been on a hunger strike there for more than 40 days. However, contrary to me, he took nutrient mixtures. 

“I suffer from arthritis, and I take diclofenac,” Iura told me. “If there is no broth, the medicinal product will burn my stomach.”

29.08.2018

Small pleasures continued today. The warden took us to the large walking yard fully lit with the sun rays. We were taken for a walk in the afternoon instead of the morning, and me and my mates were lucky in sunbathe in pants. Joy! Rare luck! A birch was breaking through the surfaced yard in a very symbolic manner, reaching with its fragile branches to the sun, just like we, the detainees, strive to be free with our families. So many people pray for their relatives in different languages! I think their numbers exceed parishioners of churches of all denominations.

The next day was the happiest one in two months and a half of my arrest: the investigator suddenly permitted the meeting with my wife Iulia. I had been denied the meeting and telephone calls to my children many times before that. I am not sentimental, but an hour of conversation, even across the glass and with a telephone receiver, had an effect of an exploded bomb. 

My path to happiness was very long and complicated, and I had the feeling of unreality of the situation: the picture of the underground passage with shabby corridors under vaulted arcs, with the mould covering the walls, ceiling, doors of cells and even the floor because of the high humidity, and with no light. The prisoners I met in the most horrible place of Matroska, “tubdis”, looked liked shadows from Buchenwald concentration camp. They were mostly from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as well as shabby Slavs held in terribly overcrowded cells, which were supposed to accommodate sixteen people, but were actually accommodated by 25 to 30 prisoners. It was the most terrible thing I had ever seen. 

The “household criminals”, i.e. the people who had already been convicted and did their time as maintenance staff, walked along the corridor. It was lunch time, so they moved the trolley with the containers filled with the swill, which was absolutely different from the food service in the hospital and special units where very important detainees were held. The trolley was followed by two cats that put they paws into the container from time to try the food. According to the witnesses, the floor in the toilet in cells is ground, and the iron toilet is plugged up with a plastic bottle so that rats will not get out of there. They are rarely taken for a walk. The name “tubdis” means that there used to be the building where the patients suffering from tuberculosis were kept. Now the tuberculosis dispensary is in a separate hospital building different from the one where I am held. Both drug addicts and prisoners suffering from AIDS and hepatitis C are often held at the “tubdis”. They say they blow the vein by means of ball point refills sharpened in their cells. 

In about twenty minutes, I and the warden finally reached the meeting room with the glass partitions and telephone sets. Iulia came it, wearing a beautiful T-shirt and fresh-faced, with her hair loose. I was stunned by her beauty, and my wife’s voice sounded like a symphony. When the warden came in and said an hour had passed, I could not believe it. The meeting flew by... While I was transited through the “tubdis”, other corridors and prison buildings with hundreds of turns that one could only remember at the tenth time, everything did not seem so scary anymore. I had Iulia’s image in front of my eyes, and I walked smiling widely until I heard the command that made me wake from the stupor, 

“Stop! What is your last name?” 

“Shestun. Do you know my name?” I asked it when I saw interest flicker in the eyes of the stocky of the Mayor of the Federal Penitentiary Service.

“Of course! Everyone knows you. Deputy Head of the Detention Centre responsible for the confinement conditions,” the young-looking officer introduced himself.

I discussed the detention conditions at Lefortovo and the local prison with Matvei Piankov for about ten minutes. These are two oldest and most famous detention centres that were constructed during the tsar times in addition to Butyrka, but the attitude to prisoners is absolutely different. Let me repeat that despite the much better financing, Lefortovo manages to make the life of its prisoners so hard that Matrosskaia Tishina and Vodnik are an ultimate dream of mine. I thanked the senior executives of the Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Moscow responsible for all the detention centres except Lefortovo for their much more humane attitude to the people who have not been convicted yet as their guilt has not been proven yet.

When I came back into my pink cell, I fell onto the bed and did not get up until the night; I kept staring at the ceiling and smiling happily. Andrei had been taken to court. Rashid was probably bored, and he asked me several times why I had a stupid smile on my face. The emotional outburst after the meeting was so strong that I could hardly answer; I had difficulty even nodding. I knew that the escalation of the spirit will be followed by a decline. Do not take delight in victories and do not be upset with defeats: both tax your powers. But I could not help being glad and enjoyed the after-taste of the meeting shamelessly and recollected all the details.

30.08.2018

As I already said, the senior executives of the hospital buzzed like a disturbed hive because of my arrival. All the wardens and nurses confirmed that they had never seen such strict control before. Even the girl at the checkpoint informed in response to the attorneys’ request for a visit to Shestun that he was discussed a lot, and nobody needed such notorious detainees because they were a plague. Of course, I was upset because when I had fainted at night because of a spasm in my bowels, young surgeon Borisov told me seriously,

“You have no shame! You are simulating...”

To my mind, doctors may not behave so indecently. 

When I had arrived, our cell was attended by Sergei Pozdeev, the head of the detention centre “Matrosskaia Tishina”, which was a very rare thing. For instance, my cell mate Andrei Murashev has been in this cell for half a year, and Colonel Pozdeev has never been here. A bit tired Sergei Leonidovich left a pleasant impression of an open and honest officer of about 45, with sadness imprinted on his face. It was obvious that his job came at a price. I did not complain about doctors and Molokova’s words as I could understand her; I just thanked him for the comfortable cell, free admission of the attorneys into excellent offices and overall attitude of the detention centre staff.

 

Новости

Мнения

Записки Шестуна