When one thinks of Russian prisons the mind is usually drawn to images of miserable Gulags, merciless guards, and the infamous Russian prison tattoos. Modern Russian jails are indeed grim places. Often located in the middle of nowhere or in one-horse towns that have sprung up around it, they are defined by sadness and misery. Unless you are a high ranking Russian gangster that is.
Pictures released recently by Radio Free Europe showed an ancient Rome themed birthday party of a notorious criminal of the Russian mafia. The party took place in a Russian prison in the Serpukhov area of the Moscow region and featured mountains of caviar, Roman gladiators, and countless bottles of Vodka and tequila. Frequent fast-food deliveries were also made to the prison to supply the party.
The party was to honor the birthday of Russian Mafia boss Anton Kuznetsov who is being held in the Russian prison on charges of robbery. Images that went viral show a group of prisoners in homemade gladiators’ outfits and waving cardboard swords. Beneath them, a slightly unhappy-looking prisoner is dressed up as a lion.
Another photo taken on an illegal phone smuggled into the Russian prison showed Anton Kuznetsov spreading expensive red caviar on bread. Prisoner officers on his payroll were seen to be handing him McDonald’s food through a prison service hatch. Although Russian prisoners are allowed food brought in by friends and family from outside, caviar and McDonalds is definitely not allowed. Neither is the sharp knife that can be seen in one of the photos.
The release of the photos was a source of great embarrassment for the Russian prison system who have already been accused of corruption, poor control over prisons, and abuse of inmates. The Kuznetsov party brings back memories of the infamous scandal in 1994 that took place at Moscow’s Butyrka prison when various criminals and employees of Moscow strip clubs were allowed into the prison to celebrate the birthday of another Russian Mafia boss.
To explore the various prison towns in Russia, check out our range of Soviet tours across the largest country on earth.