“Here have not been any radical reforms in penitentiaries after the revolution,” Arthur Mkrtchyan, a prisoner to life, told Forrights. “The only difference is that the laws have started to work. In the past, before the revolution, the law did not work; it remained written on paper.”

Arthur Mkrtchyan says that there were no changes in the punishment regime in the past, but now there is slow progress. “There was no way you could achieve [imprisonment] regime change or early release. There are cases when lifers are released,” he said.

Arthur Mkrtchyan considers it important to increase the number of visitations to lifers. “Until the end of 20 years of serving the sentence, two long-lasting visits are allowed during a year. It seems to me that these visits should be much often. I understand that lifers have committed particularly serious crimes, but it is not acceptable to punish them by cutting them off from their families. Those visits have good effects; the convicts begin to behave in a way to be able to return to their families soon.”

Arthur Mkrtchyan has been in prison for 26 years. He is accused of killing 5 colleagues. In a conversation with Forrights, Artur Mkrtchyan also raises issues that at first glance seem trivial, but psychologically oppress the detainees.

“We are in black uniform. I understand, this is a state structure, there are rules, but the uniform is the description of a person. People are not allowed to wear clothes appropriate to their inner world, people are restrained. You have to wear this, and that’s it!” he concludes.

Narek Kirakosyan

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