Few dozen detainees in Viru prison have gone to hunger strike because “they are not satisfied” with the member of staff who distributes food at the jail's canteen.
The prisoners complained to ERR's Russian-language portal that the canteen attendant's “personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired” and “his sexual orientation is also disturbing”, which is why they cannot accept food handled by him.
The incarcerated man in question has asked the jail's administration to release him from his duties, but without success so far.
When asked for comment, the spokeswoman of Estonian Ministry of Justice Katrin Luht said that imprisoned inmates cannot just set their own rules instead of regulation imposed by law.
“The convicts have to learn how to peacefully co-exist with different people. The decision to choose its kitchen porters and other staff is in the hands of the prison's management, not prisoners. Therefore there are no plans to make changes to current arrangement,” Luht told ERR.
The inmates also claimed to ERR that the prison has tried to break the strike by imposing extra restrictions upon them, such as limiting their TV-viewing time, using their own fridge or the prison's shop, or even restraining the walks in fresh air.
But Luht rejected these claims. “According to law, the prison assures the access to shop at least once a month. The inmates who store their food in fridge, can use it if they haven't violated any rules.” Luht also maintained that as per law, the prisoners can go for a walk an hour a day.
Viru Prison is a regional prison in Jõhvi, Estonia, completed in 2006. It incorporates 1,000 closed beds and a 75-bed open unit. To gain the best security possible, all buildings are connected with upper-air gallery, leading from one building to another.
Editor: S. Tambur