17 December 2005

Penal Colony Self-government

Laurence Jarvik notes that "Felix Kulov, the current Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, a former Mayor of Bishkek and KGB officer, was sent to a Soviet-style penal colony by the country's former ruler, Askar Akayev." Here's a short excerpt on self-government in Kulov's penal colony from an interview with him on Ferghana.ru.
What is a penal colony? A territory fenced in, with watchtowers and soldiers on them, with people living inside that territory. It is absolutely deserted by night. Just two men somewhere on the tower, warrant officers on duty. They are unarmed, but have a radio to make their reports. A Soviet system, you know. A penal colony, not prison. In Western movies all cells open simultaneously, prisoners take their daily walk, and get herded back in later on. That's probably how things are done there, I do not know. It is different in our penal colonies. You get in, there is not one other prisoner around, you are on your own. Decades of the Soviet regime and this penitentiary system resulted in appearance of certain rules.

Say, a prisoner is not supposed to carry a knife openly. No fights are permitted. Whoever has to settle some issue in that manner, they have to go to the so called forbidden zone beyond the barbed wire. The survivor comes back. That's logical, or there will be endless fights. Sure, they occur too, but they always incur a punishment. A prisoner who got drunk should not show it because not everyone has access to booze. Prisoners do get drunk, but they are supposed to behave themselves. They'd have killed each other in no time at all otherwise. They are all "heroes" there, you know. Shortly speaking, it took many generations of prisoners literally decades to work out all these rules.

Some men become thieves by statute which elevates them to the highest status of the underworld hierarchy. It is they who see to it that these rules are observed and enforce them whenever necessary. Here is one of the rules. Whenever someone puts someone else on drugs, makes this someone else a needle-freak, then this man is in real trouble. He'll be beaten to the inch of his life, until he wishes he did not do it. Whenever it is done in that other life, beyond the barbed wire and fence, it's all right. In a penal colony it is forbidden.
The first principle of self-government in a penal colony is to govern yourself very carefully. LaurenceJarvikOnline posts a longer excerpt.

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