Russia orders prison inmate on hunger strike to pay his own medical costs

Rusia has ordered a prisoner to pay his own medical costs after he went on hunger strike over jail conditions, his lawyer said today, a move that could curb protests against poor treatment of convicts.

The prison service is forcing Andrei Krekov, 36, a lawyer from the northwestern Arkhangelsk region, to cover costs of some 50,000 roubles (€813) resulting from a 27-day hunger strike last year.

Prisoners in Russia have little recourse to draw attention to abuses and often resort to hunger strikes as a way of highlighting their plight. High-profile detainees in Russian jails who have held hunger strikes include the Pussy Riot punks, former oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko.

“We have huge doubts about the legality of this lawsuit,” said Alexei Fedyarov, a lawyer from Sitting Rus, an organisation that campaigns for prisoners’ rights, who has taken up Krekov’s case.

“The lawsuit and the decision on it will set a precedent,” he said, warning that hunger strikes “could simply die out.”

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