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The history of the creation of the prison is replete with a lot of legends and rumors. February 22, 1771 can be considered a conditional date for the foundation of the Butyrka prison, since it does not find documentary confirmation. The first known plan of the Butyrka prison dates back to 1804. Nevertheless, according to a number of historians, the prison was opened during the reign of Empress Catherine II, researchers call the year 1771 or 1784 the year when construction began. The authorship of the prison project is attributed to the famous architect Matvey Kazakov.

Also, it was not confirmed that the rebel Emelyan Pugachev was in Butyrka prison in 1775. Modern researchers consider this information to be another urban legend based on rumors.

During the first decades of its existence, Butyrka served as the Moscow provincial prison castle.

Since the second half of the 19th century, the majority of the inhabitants associated Butyrka with a transit prison, where prisoners are temporarily held, who follow to the place of serving their sentences in the eastern regions of the country. At the end of the 60s. XIX century, the Ministry of Internal Affairs came up with an initiative to replace part of the foot stages with the transportation of prisoners along the rivers. From 1868, prisoners’ parties began to linger for the winter period until the resumption of navigation in Orel, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Perm, Tyumen and Tomsk. In this regard, Butyrka became the Moscow Central Transit Prison. From the prison, the parties of prisoners going to Siberia walked about 10 kilometers to the Nizhegorodsky railway station, which has not survived to this day, and since the end of the 1880s, the distance was reduced to one and a half kilometers, the prisoners went to the Smolensky (now Belorussky) railway station … The route of the party of prisoners from the Butyrka prison to the railway station is described in Leo Tolstoy’s novel “Resurrection”. The author of the novel repeatedly visited Butyrka and consulted its employees.

The prison acquired its modern appearance in 1877-1879, after the restructuring. Instead of single-storey buildings adjacent to the church building, new multi-storey buildings were erected along the perimeter of the walls.

The historical events of the early 20th century did not pass by the Butyrka prison. In 1905, during the December armed uprising in Moscow, an attempt was made to seize, which was repulsed by the prison staff. On January 21, 1911, three prisoners of the convict section tried to escape. In order to take possession of the uniform and weapons in the premises of the carpentry workshop, they killed four warders. The escape was prevented thanks to the courage and resourcefulness of the warden Veselov, who, being wounded, managed to lock the door of the workshop outside and block the criminals.

In the dashing years of the early 20th century, many famous people were kept in Butyrka: Vladimir Mayakovsky, Nestor Makhno, Felix Dzerzhinsky.

After the events of 1917, the prison came under the jurisdiction of the Cheka, and then the OGPU and the NKVD. During these years, a large number of scientists and cultural workers were also in prison. It was in Butyrka in December 1929 that the first “sharashka” appeared – TsKB-39 OGPU im. Menzhinsky – the prison design bureau of the OKB OGPU, where they were engaged in developments in the aviation industry.

There was such a moment in the history of Butyrka when the institution stopped its work for 2 months, the only time in its entire existence.

In the summer of 1941, inmates of the Butyrka prison were evacuated to the territory of the modern Nizhny Novgorod, Kostroma, Vladimir, Saratov, Omsk and Orenburg regions, the Chuvash Republic and the Republic of Tatarstan. In the difficult days of the Battle of Moscow, from October 30, 1941 to the end of December 1941, the institution was under conservation. Since 1942, the prison began to function as usual.

In 1964, most of the prisons, including Butyrskaya, were reorganized into pre-trial detention centers.

In pre-trial detention center No. 2, at all times, much attention was paid to the history of their institution. In 1971 she began to work exposition “Museum of the Pugachev Tower”… In 2017, in the building of the former convict workshops opened The central permanent exhibition on the history of the penal system. The employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, participating in its creation, carry out constant research work. A historical portal of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia has been created, on its pages everyone can get acquainted, including with history of Butyrka prison.

Despite its serious age, pre-trial detention center No. 2 is currently one of the largest in Russia, serving about 500 employees. Over the past 2 years, over 115 thousand suspects, accused and convicted persons have passed through the institution, while the conditions of detention correspond to the requirements of the law, it is not allowed to overstretch.

The institution widely uses modern technologies. So the video surveillance system allows you to recognize faces, detect abandoned objects, keep counting visitors and, which is especially important at the present time, to identify people who do not observe the mask mode.

The checkpoint uses stationary X-ray inspection equipment and portable X-ray scanners, which are used to detect prohibited items.

To exclude shoots by substitution, a biometric personality recognition system functions, which allows a person to be identified and verified based on a set of specific and unique features inherent in him from birth.

During fingerprinting of suspects, accused and convicted persons, an automated system is used to improve the processes of registration, processing, comparison and identification of fingerprint information and to create the corresponding data banks.

Employees of the regime and security units in their work use an integrated security system that protects the perimeter of the institution by issuing signals for triggering security sensors.

Despite numerous technical innovations, the main wealth of the institution was and remains its large team, which in difficult conditions successfully copes with the tasks assigned to it.

The first known plan of the Butyrka prison, 1804

Solitary confinement at Central Transit Prison, 1906

A group of prisoners in the courtyard of the Central Transit Prison, 1906

The preserved interior of the office of the 30-40s of the 20th century

Modern camera

CCTV post

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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