Support The Moscow Times!

Russia’s Budget Revenue from Prisoner Labor Doubles from 2016-2022

Men's colony in the Krasnodar region. Roman Sokolov / TASS

Russia’s federal budget revenue from convict labor has more than doubled from 2016-2022, The Moscow Times' Russian service reported Friday, citing Finance Ministry data.

In 2022, the federal budget received 19.1 billion rubles ($192.4 million) from forced labor performed by convicts for state and private companies, compared to 8.8 billion rubles ($89.4 million) in 2016, according to MT’s Russian service.

In the first five months of 2023, the federal budget has already received 7.6 billion rubles ($77.5 million) from using convict labor.

Russia reintroduced compulsory labor as a form of criminal punishment in 2017.

More than 26,000 inmates in the country’s prisons are performing forced labor for 1,700 commercial organizations, MT Russian reported, citing Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN).

Companies such as leading e-commerce company Ozon, Russian Railways, the truck manufacturer KAMAZ and Russia’s largest tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod use inmates’ labor.

The British Defense Ministry said in January that “the Russian defense manufacturing sector is highly likely resorting to using convict labor in an effort to meet wartime production demands.”

“The prison population provides a unique human resource to Russian leaders to utilize in support of the ‘special military operation’ while willing volunteers remain in short supply,” the ministry said in a statement.

The federal budget deficit has also soared since the start of the war in Ukraine, with the country spending more in the first half of 2023 than originally targeted for the entire year.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more