By Paul Goble
Effective control of prisons and prison camps in the Urals is now being divided between jailors, criminal bosses, and Muslims to such a degree that “the zones” are referred to as “red” if the jailors are in charge, “black” if ordinary criminals are, and “green” if Muslim groups control the situation.
But this division is not yet stable, Igor Pushkaryev of Novyye izvestiya reports. Instead, there is a constant battle among the three groups with now one and now another gaining the upper hand and no one certain that this or that jail or camp will remain under a particular category (znak.com/2017-11-23/kak_fsin_vory_i_musulmane_delyat_uralskie_zony).
Experts say, however, that the division between red and black is especially conditional because the prison authorities continue to rely on “ordinary” criminals to help them police the situation. As a result, the real divide is between those the jailors and “ordinary” criminals control and those where they have lost out to the Muslims who have made these institutions “green.”
Some observers, like the social oversight bodies in Sverdlovsk, that officials have created the scarecrow of “green” jails in order to unite the jailors and the ordinary criminals into one fist and argue that the Muslims have seldom been able to sustain control over any particular facility for long, although that may change as the numbers of Muslim prisoners increase.
There are also widespread rumors that the FSB has had to intervene and take direct control of certain facilities, Pushkaryev continues; but these rumors are dismissed by local sources because they say that “the FSB officers never go into the colonies themselves. This is not their level.” The fact there are rumors, however, shows how badly things have deteriorated.
But there is an even stronger piece of evidence that the fight among the jailors, ordinary criminals and Muslims is reaching new heights. Prison officials in the Urals region now routinely insist that “all our zones are ‘red,’” a claim that would have no meaning if there weren’t a genuine threat from “black” and “green” alternatives.