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Oddly Enough

"Save time and money" with Moscow jail online shop

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Inmates jailed in Moscow can now have chocolates, games and other gifts delivered straight to their cells with purchases made by family or friends via a new online store, the head of the city’s prisons said Sunday.

In an interview with Russian state news agency Itar-tass, Viktor Dezhurov said the new Internet shop had proved highly popular in a month since opening, averaging 180 orders per day.

“Inmates’ relatives go to our website... Our employees then fill out the order and deliver it to the jail cells within three days,” Dezhurov, who heads the Moscow branch of the Federal Prison Service, said.

In addition to a wide range of food products -- including fresh fruit and nine different types of cheeses -- the web shop offers relatives a chance to send a copy of the Bible, the Koran or the Russian criminal code to loved ones locked in isolation.

While 21 sorts of cigarettes are available, alcohol is not.

The online store, currently serving pretrial detention centres in the capital, helps “save time and money,” it boasts on its website, www.sizomag.ru, reached through a link on the web home page of the federal prison service.

Some 30,000 detainees each year pass through Moscow’s pre-trial detention centres, Dezhurov said. Online shopping will soon be extended to all the city’s seven prisons, he added.

Russia’s overcrowded, poorly managed prison system has come under increased scrutiny since the November 2009 death of a lawyer awaiting trial at one of Moscow’s most notorious prisons.

Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Peter Graff

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