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Russia: Hunger Strikes Are Deemed Riots

(Sept. 21, 2011) On September 5, 2011, the State Duma of the Russian Federation (the lower house of the legislature) started deliberations on government-proposed amendments to the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure, which, if adopted, would deem hunger strikes and self-inflicted wounds by prisoners to be acts aimed at disorganizing the work of a penitentiary institution. The bill places these acts on the same footing as drug abuse by convicts or prison revolts, and prisoners who perform such acts will forfeit their chances for early release on probation. Those who undertook such actions would be placed in isolation cells or transferred to other correctional institutions with stricter security. (Government Decided to Consider Hunger Strikes to Be Prison Revolts [in Russian], NEWSRU.COM (Sept. 5, 2011).)

Russian human rights defenders believe that such measures, if adopted, would leave more than 800,000 Russian prisoners bereft of their last means of defending their rights. (Irinia Gordienko, Gosduma Reshaet, Mozhhno li Zakliuchennym Golodat [State Duma Decides If Prisoners Can Conduct Hunger Strikes] NOVAYA GAZETA (Sept. 6, 2011).)