Some time ago extreme people had a chance to take a dive into the atmosphere of Russian prison. In Russian city of Vladimir tourists were offered an entertainment tour called “One day in prison”. For about 100 USD everybody could play the role of a prisoner of Vladimirsky Central, one of the most famous and legendary Russian prisons.
Tourist groups started their journey in Moscow. After arriving to Vladimir and having an excursion around the city travellers were isolated from each other and brought to jail in special buses for prisoners. Later the tour participants put on robes, were taken fingerprints, photographed with individual numbers, had a walk in the prison yard, and then were put into cells. After a short period of “imprisonment” tourists had an excursion to the museum of prison art, had dinner in a prison dining room, and at last redeemed. Tour participants also got their robes and photographs with numbers as souvenirs.
Founded in the late 18th century, in the Soviet period Vladimirsky Central became famous for its notable prisoners. Almost every cell of the prison has played a role in national history. Here served a sentence such people as Lyudmila Ruslanova, Mikhail Frunze, one of Stalin`s sons Vasily, Daniil Andreev, the American pilot Harry Francis Powers, whose plane was crashed down in the Urals, and many other well-known people.
Interestingly, it is hard for visitors from other regions to find this prison in Vladimir. If ask the locals “Could you tell me, please, where Vladimirsky Central is?” they are likely to shrug shoulders in respond. This is because the legendary prison is called “Dvoechka” amongst the locals.
Nevertheless, after the Federal Penitentiary Service had known about organization of extreme tours to prison, a scandal broke out in Vladimir. One of the Moscow tour firms applied with a request to organize extreme excursions to the museum of Vladimirsky Central. Two experimental visits took place in November. One of the tour organizers, wearing camouflage, was playing the role of a jailer and deliberately treated the tourists roughly. However, apart from the visit to the museum, the prison governor let the tourists go into a restricted area, and this was a violation of the museum visiting regime.
Due to this fact the officials checked the prison and put an end to the practice of extreme tours. Now tourists can get access to the museum of Vladimirsky Central only having a written consent of the Federal Penitentiary Service, and only for an excursion to the exposition.
There are various opinions on prison tours. Some people think it can be of help to break the absurd myth of prison romanticism which exists in youngsters` circles and make people think twice before committing a crime. Others consider it cynical to organize such excursions, as getting to prison is always a grief either for recidivists and people imprisoned circumstantially.