x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Uproar after prisoners hold toga party in Russian jail

Photographs published across the internet show prisoners at the Serpukhov jail outside Moscow in Roman-style togas and a table piled high with food.

MOSCOW // Russia's prisons service has launched an inquiry after photos emerged of toga-clad inmates holding a lavish party complete with caviar and fast food, media reported yesterday.

The photographs, published across the internet, show prisoners at the Serpukhov jail outside Moscow naked except for Roman-style togas and a table piled high with food.

The grinning group of a dozen prisoners brandish cardboard tridents and swords while one is dressed up as a lion. Another image shows a prisoner spreading a large helping of red caviar on bread.

The affair is the latest embarrassment for the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishment (FSIN), which runs Russia's prisons and is criticised for prisoner abuse and lax control of jails.

The FSIN Moscow region spokeswoman, Tatyana Soboleva, told the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily: "After an internal investigation the guilty officials - right up to the leadership of the jail - will be brought to disciplinary responsibility."

She said internal investigators were working at the prison to find out what happened.

The pictures, first published by the tabloid newsite lifenews.ru, were taken with a mobile phone and show a knife. While inmates are allowed certain food from outside, caviar is not one of them.

According to the media reports, the party was given in honour of a criminal boss, named as Anton Kuznetsov, 26, who has been convicted of robbery. He is also shown taking delivery of food from McDonald's from a prison hatch.

The Moskovsky Komsomolets daily compared the scandal to an incident in 1994 when officials at the Butyrka prison in Moscow allowed outsiders inside the jail to celebrate the birthday of a criminal boss.