Russia’s Boom Business: Forced Labor In Prisons

When activist and musician Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was imprisoned in Russia in 2012, her family, bandmates, and her open challenging of the status quo –  (including letter writing and a hunger strike) made the conditions in Russia’s prisons an international headline. Most notably, Tolokonnikova brought the practice of forced prison labor to light, sharing how she worked long hours in harsh conditions with strict quotas. While Russia claims that complaints of this nature are rare, there have been other claims about work conditions and unpaid wages. 

30% of Russian inmates (about 219,000) work in prison, earning the equivalent of $5.50 a day. While a delegation from the Russian presidential Human Rights Commission found conditions at Tolokonnikova’s former penal colony to be satisfactory in May, is that the case in facilities across the country?

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