July 01, 2021

New GULAG?



New GULAG?
Abandoned uranium mining forced labor camp in Kodar, along the forbidding BAM route. ADRUTIN

Russian authorities have found a new way to boost the country’s sluggish economic growth while also solving the shortage of construction workers: prison labor.

As many foreign workers returned to their home countries due to more restrictive labor policies, which was then followed by the coronavirus slowdown, real estate developers found themselves faced with a serious shortage of cheap labor. The Federal Prison Service (FSIN), in charge of the country’s network of penal facilities, has stepped in to fill the breach.

“We can deliver [a labor force] and it won’t be the GULAG,” the service’s chief, Alex–ander Kalashnikov, told President Vladimir Putin in a May meeting. [GULAG is an acronym for Glavnoye Upravlenie LAGerey (Main Directorate for Camps)]. Kalashnikov said convicts would be presented with “new, respectable conditions,” plus a salary and a place to live. By his calculations, some 188,000 convicts out of the total prison population of 482,000 would be eligible to serve out their sentence under conditions of forced labor. “I hope this has great potential,” he said. “We will be actively promoting this.” It has particular promise, he said, in large infrastructure projects, like railway construction in Siberia.


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