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Prisoners to work on railway construction in Russia’s Khabarovsk territory

Source: RIA Novosti

The Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) branch in Russia’s Khabarovsk territory has signed an agreement with the company Bamstroymekhanizatsiya “on bringing in convicts for forced labor” on the construction of the second line of the Baikal–Amur Mainline (BAM), reports RIA Novosti. 

The agreement was signed by the regional FSIN head Yuri Dorokhin and Bamstroymekhanizatsiya general director Alexander Chernoyarov.

According to a FSIN spokesperson, the agreement also outlines plans to create a dedicated worksite for convict laborers working on the BAM second line, which “functions as a correctional center” and is located outside of existing prison facilities.

According to Dorokhin, approximately 3,000 convicts are eligible to apply to have their prison terms replaced with forced labor.

In turn, Chernoyarov said that Bamstroymekhanizatsiya is experiencing labor shortages due to both the scale of the construction project and the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent years, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service has repeatedly floated the idea of reviving convict labor for construction projects. In May 2021, FSIN Director Alexander Kalashnikov once again suggested using prisoners, on a voluntary basis, to work on projects that typically employ migrant laborers and are lacking workers due to the coronavirus pandemic and border closures.

Russia’s Investigative Committee and Justice Ministry both supported Kalashnikov’s proposal, as did Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova. A survey conducted by the federal pollster VTsIOM also showed that 71 percent of Russians support hiring convicts instead of migrant workers.

In early June, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said that prison laborers are being involved in the construction of infrastructure in Moscow and the Moscow region on a trial basis.

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