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39 Inmates Mutilate Themselves in Prison Protest

Thirty-nine inmates lacerated their forearms in an Irkutsk penal colony in protest against harsh internal regulations, the region's prison service said Wednesday.

The situation inside the prison, which houses convicted law enforcement officials, has since returned to normal and all of the inmates have left the prison yard, a spokeswoman for the service said.

At about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, 350 inmates gathered in the prison's main yard where 39 of them cut their forearms, demanding less severe disciplinary rules and to  speak with journalists.

This is the second protest to have occurred in the penal colony over the last week. On Sunday evening, 70 to 80 inmates took to the prison yard to complain about the quality of food, inadequate medical service and the manner in which parole hearings are carried out at the colony.

That protest was triggered by a dispute between an employee at the colony and two inmates over the requirement to attend the evening meal wearing short-sleeved shirts, the spokesperson said.

The colony's administration is investigating the actions of the employee who was involved in the incident, but no disciplinary action will be taken against the inmates.

Several high-ranking officials are currently working at the colony in Irkutsk, about 5,000 kilometers east of Moscow, including a local prosecutor, a human rights ombudsman and the head of the region's Federal Penitentiary Service, the report said.

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