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CNN Today

Russian Inmates Taste Brief Salty Freedom

Aired July 21, 2000 - 2:39 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In Russia, necessity is proving to be the mother of invention, or at least inventiveness. A shortage of food and money for Russian prisons means inmates are getting some fresh air.

CNN's Steve Harrigan says the plan takes inmates from behind iron bars and puts them behind a net.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fishermen in the thick, black uniforms have no gloves for their hands, get paid nothing, and love their work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Of course it's a nice feeling when we get a lot of fish. We bring it to the kitchen and we know it's going to make its way to those who can't come out here.

HARRIGAN: Those who can't come out are the rest of the 3,000 inmates at the Jaroslavl prison. At 4:00 each morning, a lucky 12 walk through the gates to the banks of the Volga River.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): All of them dream to be here fishing. It's better than sitting behind the wall.

HARRIGAN: Two guards keep watch from the shore, and so far, no one has tried to escape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It shows they trust us. That makes things a little easier.

HARRIGAN: The prison gets about 12 cents a day from the state to feed each prisoner. Until the fishing brigade was started, they ate mostly cereal. The 80 kilograms of perch and pike are not enough for everybody. The first fed are women, those with tuberculosis, and the fishermen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If you've got a decent barley soup with onion and fish, that's not bad eating.

HARRIGAN: Not bad eating when it comes with a taste of freedom, a freedom that comes to an end after each day's catch.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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