In accordance with the tradition surviving from the Soviet times, the searches in Armenian prisons, in addition to finding prohibited things, objects, materials, aim to frighten the convicts. They are used as a prophylactic action and are accompanied by destruction.

Convicts accept this as a known unwritten rule. Of course, there are those who try to protest against the method of these horrible occurrences. Our interlocutor, Mekhak Grigoryan, a convict kept in the 4th building of the prison, is one of them. Yesterday, he called us from the payphone of Nubarashen and reported that the employees of the institution entered his cell and smashed his “cell”.

From the website of the Penitentiary Service, we are informed that searches were conducted recently in the Nubarashen penitentiary.

“As part of the fight against the storage and circulation of prohibited items by imprisoned persons, searches were carried out by the officers of the security and operational departments of the Convicts’ Hospital and Vardashen”penitentiary institutions of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia. In particular, the officers of the Convicts’ Hospital penitentiary found a mobile phone with a subscription card and a charging cord from a hiding place behind the refrigerator in one of the wards of the therapeutic department. And as a result of the searches carried out in the Vardashen penitentiary, 5 mobile phones, 4 subscription cards and a charger were found,” the Penitentiary Service reports.

According to Mekhak Grigoryan, the workers who came for the search, among whom were the deputy heads of the Criminal Investigation Department, started hitting the walls and the floor without giving any explanation. “They entered and smashed the cell. They asked if we had illegal items, they said we have sold illegal items, etc. We said that we didn’t have such things, tell us what exactly we did, so we can know why you are destroying everything around. They told us this is how it should be. And they did it only with our cell,” says Mekhak Grigoryan.

According to him, the employees of the penitentiary damaged the walls of cell 004, broke the existing poor furniture, such as small cupboards and chairs, and even broke the floor tiles. “If you come and see, you will say what kind of pigs are staying here. They broke everything so badly!” says the convict.

During the last week, this was the second case of shmon [search] in this same cell 004. Four convicts live there, who are already in a depressed state, and the cell’s furnishings, order, and cleanliness are important for them. Now, the image of a cell turned into rubble deepens people’s bad mood, makes them feel down.

The convicts applied to the Human Rights Office, but they were told to contact their boss. “They say to present it in writing. We can present it in writing, but operative intervention is required. We don’t know what is going on. I also appealed to the boss [of the prison], I say: what is the reason, why are you entering, destroying our cell? He says I’m doing well, that’s how it should be,” complains Mekhak Grigoryan.

We turned to Nona Navikyan, the press spokesperson of the penitentiary service, and asked what happened in the cell and why it was necessary to break the furniture, floor tiles, and walls.

“Yesterday, on May 4, unplanned searches were carried out in the cells of the Nubarashen penitentiary institution of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Armenia in order to find prohibited items and hiding places. I should add that the information about damage to the property in the cells during the search does not correspond to reality. Unplanned searches carried out in the penal institutions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Armenia to find prohibited items have periodic nature,” answered the spokesperson.

P.S. By the way, it is obvious from the message spread today that the destructive search did not have any results: no drugs or prohibited items were found in Nubarashen penitentiary, as can be seen from the above report.

Syuzan Simonyan

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