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Mordovia Inmates Used as Unpaid Laborers for Billionaire

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova Igor Tabakov

Inmates of the Mordovia penal colony number 14, where hunger-striking Pussy Riot activist Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is serving her sentence, are in fact the unpaid employees of a company owned by former State Duma deputy member and billionaire Vladimir Golovnyov, Izvestia reported Thursday.

Three major producers of uniforms and work garments — Golovnyov's Vostok-Servis, Magellan, and Tekhnoavia- reportedly employ the colony's services. The colony's production earned over 70 million rubles ($2 million) in 2012, Izvestia said.

The Federal Prison Service insists that the conditions in the colony meet the demands of the federal Labor Code and that the clothing produced there is intended for internal use only.

In an open letter published earlier this week, Tolokonnikova described the work conditions in the colony as inhuman. Prisoners endure 16 to 17-hour work days, broken-down equipment, lack of training, and production quotas both massive and arbitrary, the activist said.

She also said that she earned 29 rubles (less than $1) for a full month of her labor.

Tolokonnikova could be moved to a hospital following complaints about her health, a member of the presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights said Thursday, Itar-Tass reported.

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