Tuesday 17 October 2017

Russia to use prison labour in World Cup projects

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the government at the Kremlin. Photo: Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the government at the Kremlin. Photo: Reuters

James Ellingworth in Moscow

Russian authorities have proposed using prison labour to drive down the costs of holding the 2018 World Cup.

The Russian prison service is backing a bid by Alexander Khinshtein, an MP from the ruling United Russia party, to allow prisoners to work at factories, with a focus on driving down the costs of building materials for World Cup projects.

"It'll help in the sense that there will be the opportunity to acquire building materials for a lower price, lower than there is currently on the market," Mr Khinshtein said. "And apart from that, it'll make it possible to get prisoners into work, which is very positive."

Russian prison labour schemes have faced allegations that prisoners are routinely underpaid or forced to work long hours. In 2013, the then-imprisoned Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova went on hunger strike over working conditions in her prison camp.

Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service has been working with Khinshtein to draw up the proposals, said the lawmaker, adding that they will be submitted to parliament soon.

Russia's World Cup budget of 637.6bn rubles (€11.5bn) is under pressure after the ruble dropped in value compared to last year, making imported materials more expensive.

Irish Independent

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