April 03, 2024

A Magazine for Prisoners


A Magazine for Prisoners
February issue of Prison Bulletin. Pyotr Losev, Telegram.

Amidst Russia's surge of political imprisonments in Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, IT specialist Pyotr Losev embarked on a mission to address keep political detainees better informed, by launching Tyuremny Vestnik (Prison Bulletin). This periodical provides support and insight to those incarcerated for political reasons.

It was witnessing an acquaintance's imprisonment on political grounds in 2022 prompted Losev to conceive a platform that could provide solace and connection to those behind bars.

In an interview with journalists from the independent outlet Vazhnye Istory, Losev emphasized the importance of bridging the information gap for detainees. He outlined the publication's focus on delivering contextual updates rather than reiterating global events readily available in media.

"I experimented with the concept while corresponding with the detained CEO of an IT firm, purportedly charged with treason. I condensed monthly events into summaries, from the ongoing war to trending topics like NFT market fluctuations, and Gosling-Ken memes. According to him, this was what he needed," Losev said.

Losev and his team of volunteers produce Tyuremny Vestnik once a month month. Each edition features cover art depicting significant events from the preceding month, accompanied by approximately 50 concise news items, highlights from the Russian Twitter-sphere, columns from political prisoners or journalists, and excerpts from reader letters.

Navigating strict prison censorship necessitates coded language. Avoiding sensitive terms that may trigger censorship, Losev employs juxtaposition and innuendo to convey meaningful messages. Despite these precautions, only one-third of the printed copies consistently reach their intended recipients, Losev said.

The publication primarily targets lesser-known political detainees who may lack substantial support networks. "There are many people who have never been interested in politics before. They came out with some kind of poster, wrote a comment in Odnoklassniki, and they were thrown into jail," Losev said.

Currently, Tyuremny Vestnik maintains a database of approximately 1000 political prisoners, yet financial constraints limit its distribution to 250 to 300 individuals. Financial limitations also pose a challenge to expanding print runs, but Losev is optimistic about securing sponsorships to broaden the project's reach and aid more political detainees.

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