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Russian Prison Boss Offers Inmate Labor to Boost Military Production

Kirill Zykov / Moskva News Agency

Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service has offered the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec the use of inmate labor to boost the production of military equipment for the country's armed forces, the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported on Wednesday.

Rostec head Sergei Chemezov, who is widely believed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is said to have received a proposal from Arkadiy Gostev, the head of Russia's prison system, to use Russian inmate labor back in January.

"The possibilities for this kind of cooperation are now being considered in several areas," the newspaper wrote, citing an unnamed Rostec source.

While prisoners cannot be used to assemble missiles or aircraft, which require technical specialists, they can be used for various low-skilled tasks, such as assembly line work and construction, the source said.

In November, Putin called on Russian manufacturers to increase both the volume and the quality of the items being produced for the military. 

By January, Chemezov said in an interview that some Rostec-affiliated enterprises producing tanks and aircraft had switched to a round-the-clock production schedule in light of increased demand due to the war in Ukraine.

Rostec, which manufactures missiles and aircraft for the Russian military among other things, incorporates 14 holdings and over 700 enterprises across dozens of industries.

The state military conglomerate and Russia's prison system in 2017 revealed that they were discussing the possibility of employing inmates in areas where high-tech and classified products are not involved.

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