Tatarstan pre-trial detention centres run out of bunks

The number of people convicted and arrested in pre-trial detention centres in Tatarstan has exceeded the limit by 260 people

Tatarstan pre-trial detention centres run out of bunks
Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

As it became known to Realnoe Vremya, the pre-trial detention centres in Kazan and Tatarstan ran out of free beds. Our sources attribute the unprecedented loading of republican pre-trial detention centres to such factors as the specifics of court decisions, the active work of law enforcement investigation, and even coronavirus. In the pandemic, Tatarstan citizens who were convicted with sentences that did not come into force were temporarily sent outside the republic — to the isolation centres of Samara, Kirov, Perm and even Orenburg. The problem became known to journalists by chance, when it turned out that the convicted ex-rector of KNRTU (Kazan National Research Technical Universitynamed after A. N. Tupolev), German Dyakonov, was transferred from Kazan to Ufa.

It wasn't just Dyakonov who was transported under guard

The “loss” of German Dyakonov was discovered by his attorney Midkhat Kurmanov. He came to the pre-trial detention centre-1 on Monday, but there was no client. It turned out that on October 17, the former rector of the Kazan University was sent to Ufa, and he was warned that he would stay there until the verdict came into force.

On August 7, the Vakhitovsky district court of Kazan sentenced Dyakonov to 7,5 years in prison for 10 episodes of theft with damage of 42,6 million rubles. The other defendants in the KNRTU case, with the exception of Ildar Abdullin, received suspended sentences. The verdict was appealed by four convicts, but their consideration in the Supreme Court of Tatarstan has not yet been scheduled. Therefore, the sentence did not enter into force.

A number of Kurmanov's colleagues are outraged by the decision to transfer the client at such an important stage as challenging the verdict. In their opinion, this violates the right of the convicted person to defense.

Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

“I will go to him in Ufa before the appeal. It concerns not only Dyakonov. I know that one of the convicts was transferred to Perm before the sentence was imposed, and the other to Syzran. And this is done not out of a good life — it's not good when 10 people sit in a cell for 6 people and sleep in turn," Midkhat Kurmanov comments on the situation.

Coronacrisis added problems behind bars

The information about the transfer of prisoners from the pre-trial detention centre of Tatarstan to other regions was confirmed by sources of Realnoe Vremya in law enforcement agencies. They say that agreements on the replacement of “vacant” places have been reached with the regional departments of the federal penitentiary service in neighbouring regions — Bashkortostan, Kirov Oblast and Samara Oblast, Perm Krai. Sometimes they even send them to Orenburg.

The interlocutors of Realnoe Vremya did not say about the scale of such “migrations”. However, they reminded that the problem of shortage of places behind bars has existed for a long time, and the new Kazan jail has not yet been built. Therefore, Kazan inmates are often transferred to the Chistopol jail, or even Bugulma.

A couple of years ago, with the filing of the federal penitentiary service for the Republic of Tatarstan, the issue of temporary transfer of convicted Tatarstan citizens, who were waiting for an appeal, to the Mari El detention centres was raised. However, this initiative did not receive support from the leadership of the judicial system at the time.

The problem of shortage of places behind bars has existed for a long time, and the new Kazan jail has not yet been built. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The coronavirus has significantly exacerbated the problem, sources explain Realnoe Vremya. First, due to the transfer of the judicial system to the mode of consideration of only urgent materials, all appeals against sentences were put on pause. And this pause lasted for several months, during which the sentences did not come into force and the convicts were not sent to the colonies. While arrests in new criminal cases continued and the number of prisoners in the pre-trial detention centre only increased. Moreover, with the appointment of new leaders of the power unit, the work intensified.

The quarantine also added problems to the pre-trial detention centre No. 1 in May-June, during this period, almost all criminal cases in the courts with the participation of prisoners in this facility were put on pause. Some trials had to be suspended due to the illnesses of judges and prosecutors. Another problem is large-scale cases with a large number of defendants and episodes, when cases are investigated for years. While people are jailed.

There are also attempts to abuse — with the advent of the rules on taking account the time, a day in a pre-trial detention centre counts for one and a half in a prison colony, and there are those willing to delay the process of entry of the sentence into force and technically to reduce the total period of imprisonment.

The quarantine also added problems to the pre-trial detention centre No. 1 in May-June, during this period, almost all criminal cases in the courts with the participation of prisoners in this facility were put on pause. Photo: Irina Plotnikova

“Imprisonment limit” in Tatarstan is exceeded by 260 people

When the number of prisoners in Tatarstan's detention centres exceeded the limit of 200 people, the idea of transferring “extra” people to free places in the federal penitentiary service of neighbouring regions was implemented. However, only 50-80 beds were allocated for Tatarstan citizens outside the republic, according to a source familiar with the situation in the judicial community of the Republic of Tatarstan. So this did not solve the problem of shortage, because more than 500 convicts are waiting for their appeals against sentences in Tatarstan.

According to the interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya, in SIZO-1 of Kazan alone, there are 40 people in excess of the norm, and in SIZO-2 — more than 100. In total, the “imprisonment limit” in Tatarstan is exceeded by 260 beds. And this, we note, after the expulsion of Dyakonov and other convicts...

“The overlimit problem does exist," confirmed the press-secretary of the Federal Penitentiary Service for the Republic of Tatarstan, Aleksey Larin.

No complaints have yet been received from human rights defenders who have been transferred to other regions, Azat Gaynutdinov, the chairperson of the Public Monitoring Commission of the Republic of Tatarstan, told Realnoe Vremya. He agrees that such decision is not ideal — a person may lose regular transfers from relatives, meetings with them and consultations with their attorneys. But there is also another side.

“They take away the third tiers of cells to avoid crowding. To comply with the law — for each person a certain number of square metres of space," says the chairperson of Public Monitoring Commission of the Republic of Tatarstan. “And they take away men — this is still half the trouble. Our children are taken to Perm Krai, Bashkiria and Udmurtia after the Kazan educational colony was liquidated. Here all ties are broken, and children become bitter! Women of our convicts are also taken away from the Republic of Tatarstan (there are no women's colonies in the republic — editor's note).

In this regard, convicted men are in a better position. Even those who were sent outside the republic before the sentence came into force must be returned to Tatarstan colonies and sent to serve their sentences. Exceptions are those convicted of serious crimes, cases of gangs and criminal associations, as well as those sentenced to life imprisonment.

By Irina Plotnikova
Tatarstan