To Boost Economy, Russia Frees Jailed Entrepreneurs
110K 'economic criminals' are currently in prison
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Aug 9, 2013 1:03 PM CDT
Updated Aug 9, 2013 1:15 PM CDT
A watch tower and barracks of a prison camp, similar to one in Partsa, is seen in the village of Barashevo, some 370 km (230 miles) east of Moscow, Russia, on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012.   (AP Photo/Laura Mills)

(Newser) – Faced with economic malaise, Russia needs some entrepreneurs, and it knows just where to find them: in prison. Putin administration official Boris Titov has made it his mission to scour the prison camp system once known as the gulag for businessmen that could be granted amnesty. He's got no shortage of candidates; Russia has 110,000 people serving time for "economic crimes"—that's at least 1 in 10 prisoners. Titov tells the New York Times that the government under Putin has "overreacted" to the dangers of organized crime and privatization.

One freed man, for example, spent his life savings starting a modest upholstery business using leopard-print fabric—only to have police seize that fabric and give it to a competitor, before jailing the man on a copyright infringement charge that Titov has concluded was baseless. (Says the incredulous owner, "Who owns the copyright, a leopard?") Russian police, under pressure to make arrests, often take bribes from businesses to arrest their competitors, Transparency International explains. In the first month of the now 6-month-old amnesty program, 13 prisoners were freed.

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Showing 3 of 19 comments
Azra_Halilovic
Aug 11, 2013 6:09 PM CDT
We have hundreds of thousands of marijuana workers in jail. Marijuana is an industry just like alcohol except nobody ever died from using MJ. These people are growers, wholesalers, shippers, salesman, and all sorts of types that are hardworking entrepreneurs. And they all put the money back into their community unlike banks, and big pharma. If the USA wanted to boost it's economy and provide high paying jobs for those that have criminal records it could do so easily. Turning the ghetto into Amsterdam type regions with cafes, and connoisseur shops that offer edibles, live music, and other events. And don't even get me started on how hemp would provide billions each year and help the environment. And if you think MJ sellers and entrepreneurs are lazy you are misinformed. Try working 10-15 hour days everyday.
YouAreSOSmart
Aug 11, 2013 1:35 AM CDT
A leopard doesn't change his spots. And you can call me...................Ms. Joshua
K.KRANK
Aug 10, 2013 5:12 PM CDT
2 decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union & Russia still doesn't get capitalism :/