One Dead, Hundreds Injured in Russian Prison Riot, Fire


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One inmate has been found dead after a riot and a blaze swept through a Russian prison under a coronavirus lockdown in eastern Siberia, authorities said on April 11.

Independent news outlets reported that about 300 inmates were injured in the incident at Prison No. 15 in Angarsk, Irkutsk region.

Trouble erupted on April 9 with authorities blaming prisoners, while human rights activists said inmates self-harmed en masse to protest systematic mistreatment.

Activists from the nongovernmental group For Human Rights say Russian special forces were deployed at the penal colony late on April 9 in an attempt to quell the riot.

A Federal Penitentiary Service spokesman in Irkutsk region said the rioting started when a prisoner attacked a guard.

On April 10, a fire broke out at the penal colony -- engulfing an area of about 30,000 square meters -- as riot police cordoned off roads leading to the prison, turning away independent observers. The fire was extinguished by the early morning on April 11.

The rights ombudsman for the Irkutsk region, Viktor Ignatenko, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying the body of one inmate was found after the debris was cleared. The reports did not specify the cause of death.

The regional penal service said the situation at the prison early on April 11 was "under control." It accused prisoners of starting the fire.

Videos posted on social media show buildings on fire as prisoners assert that they are being "murdered."

Human rights activists have not been allowed into the prison. Relatives and monitors are unable to contact the prison due to quarantine restrictions imposed during the coronavirus epidemic.

The Irkutsk Region Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case on the matter.

There are about 1,300 prisoners at the facility.