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Prison official charged with taking $11M bribe over mega jail

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Agence France-Presse

A former Russian prison official has been charged with taking a $11 million bribe while overseeing construction of a new jail said to be the biggest in Europe.

Sergei Moiseyenko, former deputy head of the prison service for the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg, has been charged with receiving protection money from construction firms building the Kresty-2 jail, investigators told AFP on Friday after concluding their probe.

Company directors handed him over 710 million rubles ($11.1 million at the current exchange rate) between 2010 and 2015, investigators said.

Kresty-2 opened outside Saint Petersburg in late 2017. It replaced a notorious tsarist-era jail called Kresty in the centre of Russia’s second largest city.

With a capacity of 4,000 inmates and a territory of 35 hectares, Kresty-2 is said by Russian prison authorities to be the “biggest in Europe” and cost around 12 billion rubles ($188 million at the current exchange rate) to construct.

Moiseyenko has been under arrest over the case since July.

He previously went on trial for aiding in and covering up the murder of a subordinate who had planned to expose fraud and stealing from the Kresty-2 construction project but was acquitted.

This week Russia’s Supreme Court dismissed that verdict and ordered a retrial.

Conditions in Russia’s prison system regularly spark riots and inmates and rights activists have exposed systemic torture and slave labour.

Earlier this year prisoner rights group Gulagu.net said torture was rife in Kresty-2 and guards recruit some prisoners to torture others in exchange for preferential treatment.

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