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Valery Abramkin, a founder of MCPR (19.05.1946 - 25.01.2013)

Baroness Stern:

I first met him in 1991 and continued to admire his work, his energy, his commitment and his intellectual grasp of the issues in penal reform during the years that followed. He was truly one of the world’s great penal reformers and he should be long remembered for that.

International Centre for Prison Studies:

ICPS, London, is sad to learn of the death after a long illness of Valery Abramkin, founding Director of the Moscow Centre for Prison Reform. Valery was a former prisoner of the Soviet Gulag system and became a leading prison reformer in post-Soviet Russia. He was one of the organisers of the first international prison conference in Russia in 1992, an amazing event which first opened a window on Russian prisons. Following the conference he arranged for a number of the international delegates to visit the infamous Butyrka prison in Moscow, the first group of foreigners ever to do so. Those who were there that day will never forget the experience, which sparked off a decade of prison reform in Russia. Valery will be sadly missed but long remembered.

Valery Fjodorovich Abramkin, a founder of MCPR


Moscow Mendeleyev Institute of Chemical Technology


1970 - 1976 Research Fellow, Moscow Institute of Chemical Technology; dismissed on political motivation; author of more than 30 research works in nuclear technic and technology

Human Rights Activities:

bl1.gif (837 bytes)1988 - present Founder and Director of the PRISON AND LIBERTY (presently, MOSCOW CENTER FOR PRISON REFORM) - non-governmental group to monitor the human rights of prisoners.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Founder and a principal author of the weekly radio program prisoners (since 1991)

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Co-founder of the NGO's dealing with prisoners' rights: The Society for the Defence of Imprisoned Businessmen and Economic Freedoms; The Foundation to Help Prisoners and Those on Release; The Society for the Welfare of Prisoners, and some others.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Expert for the Parliamentary Legislation Committee: working out proposals for the 1992 Alterations and Amendments to the Penal Code.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Expert for the State Duma Commission to reveal human rights violations in pretrial detention and police lockups.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)In 1992, initiated International Conference on prison reform in former totalitarian countries; was in charge of the Conference Organizing committee

bl1.gif (837 bytes)In December 1993 was awarded by The Soros Foundation for "professionalism and responsibility in coverage of the election campaign to the Federal Assembly.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)1985 - 1989 Living in exile under the surveillance of the Ministry of Interior officials in Tverskaya region. Working for two years in the orphanage for disabled children.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)1982 - 1985 Serving a second three-year term in a Siberian colony under Article 190-prim.: "for anti-soviet propaganda and slanderous fabrications to discredit the Soviet system". In the end of the term, a case was filed for "malicious contempt of the requirements od the administration" (Andropov's invention that provided for six years of imprisonment). The case was stopped due to the involvement of the Western non-governmental organizations.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)1979 - 1982 Arrested and sentenced to three years of imprisonment under the notorious Article 190-prim. While in colonies, some articles were written and sent illegally to the freedom and published in the West.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Since the late 1960s: Leader of the youth opposition movement. A chief editor and member of the editorial staff of the samizdat magazines VOSKRESENIE ("Resurrection") and POISKI (brief from: "Seeking for mutual understanding"). Author of a number of articles published in the Western press.

Appointments and membership:

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Member of the Presidential Council for Judicial Reform

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Commission at the Presidential Public Chamber

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Member of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Member of the expert group for the Presidential Commission for Human Rights.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Member of Penal Reform International.

Other information:

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Author of the guidebook for prisoners TO HELP THE PRISONER (How To Survive in a Soviet Prison).

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Author and compiler of four collections of sociological studies on the prison world, reports on prison conditions and human rights abuses in Russia's penal institutions. Author of many articles occurred in the Russian and Western press; a co-author of many video tapes shot in criminal colonies and TV programs about penall matters.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Author of the book “IN SEARCH OF A SOLUTION: Crime, Criminal Policy and Prison Facilities in the Former Soviet Union”, in Russian and English, Himan Rights Publishers, Moscow, 1996.

List of other publications edited by Valery Abramkin:

bl1.gif (837 bytes)"Letters from the Zone", Moscow, 1992, 36 p.

The booklet contains letters-responses to the events which occurred in the fall of 1991, a time of mass unrest among Russian prisoners. This is the first time since the riots of 1953-54 that the GULAG's prisoners put forward political demands. On November 13, 1991, prisoners throughout Russia went on strike. The booklet also includes other materials concerning these events.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)"Tuberculosis in Russian Prisons and Camps", Moscow, 1992, 14 p. In Russian and English (an abridged version).

The pamphlet examines the causes of TB epidemics in Russian penal institutions. It includes fragments from letters of prisoners infected by TB.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)"Prison Reform in the Former Totalitarian Countries" (a collection of the conference proceedings). Issues 1-2. Moscow, 1993. In Russian and English. Issue 1, English version - 45 pages; issue 2 - 80 pages.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)"Human Rights Violations during Arrest and Detention in IVS and SIZO". Issue 1. Moscow, 1994. In Russian and English. About 80 pages.

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Books of a series "Criminal Russia. Prisons and Camps".

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Issue 1: "The Prison World Through the Eyes of Political Prisoners", Moscow, 1993, 287 p.

A collection of interviews with former political prisoners who served their terms in common criminal camps in the period from late 1940s to the mid-80s.
Excerpts in English and German are available (18 pages).

bl1.gif (837 bytes)Issue 2: "Letters from the Zone: Late-80s". Moscow, 1993, 260 pages.

A collection of prisoners' letters, received by the news media in 1987-88, interviews with experts.

Valery Abramkin was an author of quite a number of articles, radio and TV programs and took part in many of those.

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