“And so you’ve found yourself here, in the correctional colony. Of course this isn’t the best place in the world, but what can you do? The court has sentenced you to a certain period: for some it’s one year, for others two, and for others even longer. Even so, remember that your life hasn’t ended and wherever it is that you find yourself, you must always remain civil.”
This is the absurd introduction for convicted criminals, found on the website of the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments — the government body overseeing Russia’s vast network of remote penal colonies that two members of the punk band Pussy Riot were convoyed to recently. Not unlike Russia’s president, who recently guided a flock of Siberian cranes towards their winter habitat in a hang glider, its prison system is as ludicrous as it is frightening.