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From the Isolator to House Arrest

rbkdaily111108.jpegThe RBK Daily website offers the following item in its Finances section, of all places. For those of our readers who are unfamiliar with the term “SIZO”, it means “Investigative Isolator”. This is a Russian pre-trial detention facility where innocent-until-proven-guilty arrestees are held on remand, often for many years, with hideous conditions and a regime stricter than that for most incarcerated convicts serving out their sentences. Russian SIZOs are notoriously overcrowded, often with 40-50 people sharing a smoke-filled cell designed for 8-10 and having to sleep in shifts with the lights on 24 hours a day, a one-hour daily walk in a filthy courtyard irrespective of the weather, and a brief shower once a week – if the plumbing works. Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev are currently being held in a special super-isolated wing of the SIZO of the city of Chita in Siberia. While we certainly welcome anything that can “promote the normalization of the situation” in Russia’s nefarious Investigative Isolators and improve the plight Russian prisoners (especially those who haven’t even been tried and convicted yet), we think we’re pretty safe in guessing that none of the measures proposed below will apply to Khodorkovsky and Lebedev.

Detention in SIZO may be replaced by house arrestThe Federal service for the execution of punishments of the Ministry of justice of the RF (FSIN) upon the instruction of the government of the RF has drafted a bill on the introduction in Russia of house arrest as an alternative to being held in a SIZO.As was reported by head of the FSIN legal department Oleg Filimonov, a draft law “On the house arrest of persons suspected and accused of the commission of crimes” has been introduced for consideration to the government. According to the draft law, the introduction of house arrest is prescribed in the capacity of an alternative to detention under guard.In the words of O. Filimonov, “this will promote the normalization of the situation in investigative isolators, the ensuring of the rights of persons suspected and accused of the commission of crimes, being held under guard, with respect to the living space norm”.According to FSIN’s plans, house arrest will be applied in situation in which detention in an investigative isolator is currently prescribed in relation to persons suspected and accused of crimes of medium gravity and even graver ones, “if the court comes to the conclusion that the person, being found at home, will not be able to influence the cas being investigated in relation to him”, they clarified in FSIN.At the agency they likewise did not rule out that persons in relation to whom a measure of restraint in the form of house arrest will be applied may be obligated to wear special bracelets, allowing their place of location to be controlled.11 November 2008