Relocation of some detainees to a historic tower of Moscow’s oldest remand prison Butyrka (officially, SIZO-2) was due to the number of inmates exceeding limits and repair works going on in some other ordinary cells, spokesman for the Moscow department of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) Sergei Tsygankov said.
“Suspects and defendants were placed in cells located in the tower of the remand prison primarily because currently, the number of people held there is greater than the detention center’s actual capacity ,” Tsygankov told Interfax in reply to a question on Wednesday.
“This was a temporary measure prompted by the fact that repair works are continuously ongoing in the prison, which was built in 1771, and these works require that some cells be emptied in order to be renovated,” he said.
Moscow Public Monitoring Commission (PMC) Executive Secretary Ivan Melnikov told Interfax earlier on Tuesday that he had seen several suspects being held in a tower at the Butyrka prison which was very old and had earlier been closed down.
“There are four old towers on the grounds of the remand prison. One of them is the one where rebel Yemelian Pugachev was once held. Today, it is a museum. The remaining three towers were shut down some years ago. Volunteers visiting the prison to check up on the information received by the PMC discovered that one of the towers is being used as a part of the prison and two inmates suspected of armed robbery are being held inside it,” Melnikov said.
The suspects are staying in a cell which has a total area of around four square meters and a squatting toilet, and water is continually running from a broken tap, he said.
Moreover, PMC members have found another operational ‘casemate’ in SIZO-1, the Matrosskaya Tishina prison, he said.
“This is a semi-basement with mold on the walls and a squatting pan instead of normal toilets. What’s more, the cells are in the direct vicinity of the TB block,” Melnikov said.
There are ten such cells in the detention facility, each accommodating six to twelve inmates, he said.