CHELYABINSK, November 25 (RIA Novosti) – Eight members of a Russian special duties riot police unit have been hurt in the course of an operation to regain control of a prison where convicts have run riot, local Interior Ministry sources said on Sunday.
“During an operation to restore order in the prison, eight OMON [riot police] officers of the Chelyabinsk police received injuries,” the police said.
Around 250 prisoners at Colony No.6 near the Urals city of Chelyabinsk rioted on Saturday, demanding a more relaxed regime and release of several of their number from a special punishment isolation unit, Russia’s penal system administration (FSIN) said. The prisoners held up makeshift placards and banners including one saying “We have a thousand on hunger strike” and another saying “Help Us.”
Later that evening, relatives of some of the convicts’ relatives and friends gathered near the prison, most of whom later dispersed after a few hours.
Some of the younger ones, apparently drunk, remained, and began creating a disturbance, the police said. The police detained about 39 of those involved.
Some of the people outside the jail filmed by RIA Novosti on Saturday night claimed they had been attacked by the police and were clearly injured, and cars nearby had been damaged in the disorder.
Oxana Trufanova, a human rights campaigner and coordinator of Gulagu.net, a convicts’ relatives support group, said she had been hit on the head by the police without provocation, a claim they denied.
“Media information about a person being beaten by a Chelyabinsk police OMON officer is unfounded,” the police said.
The convicts are maintaining their protest, the FSIN’s regional press officer Ivan Mishanin said. “FSIN staff from Moscow have arrived at the prison to sort out the situation,” he said.
Russia’s Investigative Committee is looking into the events around the protest, including the inmates’ refusal to obey the orders of prison staff.