Welcome to Russia’s Women Penal Colonies…Good Luck, BriTtNey GrinNeR! U gonna need it

Russian penitentiaries are loathed and feared by those serving sentences there — and that goes for the women, too. 

Having Retired as a Texas Prison Guard, I can promise you, Prisons are far worse than you could ever imagine. And after talking with some prisoners who were from Russia serving time in Texas Prisons and they served in Prison in Russia, they told me of unbelievable prison conditions there. And crimes against your humanity in Russian Prisons would shock the cruelest of men.


From kittens tossed into blazing furnaces to prisoners losing fingers slaving for hours at sewing machines in a rat-infested sweatshop, IK-14 prison for women in Russia’s central region of Mordovia is one of the most dreaded female correctional facilities in the country.

Such is the notoriety of the prison, women condemned to serve there often take extreme measures to avoid it, including slitting their wrists. And Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said the reputation of prison IK-14 was known across Russia.

“As the inmates say, ‘If you haven’t done time in Mordovia, you haven’t done time, ” said Tolokonnikova, who herself served prison time at the facility in 2013.

In a letter published in September 2013, Tolokonnikova complained about the slave-labor conditions at the prison, as well as abuse faced by prisoners. She wrote that women were forced to work 16 or 17 hours a day with one day off every eight weeks.

Prison IK-14’s sewing shop has a reputation for terrible working conditions. 

Daily cavity searches are done by other women guards where rubber gloves are never used. Bloody, bleeding cavities are normal until cavities grow clauses from their severe spreading of skin tissue by the large hands of some guards. In three years, depths to the middle of an arm are done. Women prisoners will live with nightmares forever for such painful experiences.

“After the sentence is handed down everyone is very afraid about ending up in Mordovia. They sit in their cells and nervously wait. In the end, quite unexpectedly in the middle of the night, people are taken out,” Krass said. “I was taken at midnight and they told me I should be ready to leave in 40 minutes. As I was led out, I asked where I was going. No one answered me. During the trip no one answers any of your questions.”

According to the latest official data, 557,684 individuals are incarcerated in Russian correctional facilities. Of these, 44,474 are women.

More than six years after Tolokonnikova penned her letter, the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) admitted she was “correct,” in the words of FSIN Deputy Director Valery Maksimenko.

On December 24, Maksimenko announced the FSIN had requested that prosecutors open a criminal probe into allegations of slave-labor conditions at the prison in Mordovia. The director of prison IK-14, Yury Kupriyanov, was dismissed, along with other officials, Maksimenko said.