Orel Central Prison

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Orel Central Prison


one of the largest hard-labor prisons in tsarist Russia, established in Orel in 1908. As many as 20 percent of the inmates were politicals transferred from other prisons for “corrective labor.” The political prisoners were kept together with common criminals. F. E. Dzerzhinskii served two terms at Orel in the years 1914–16. The prison was known for its especially harsh regime. It had a number of workshops, including shops that supplied all the prisons of Russia with handcuffs and leg-irons.

Conditions in the prison caused mass outbreaks of illness and resulted in a high rate of mortality and suicide. The inmates rioted in 1910 and 1912, and in 1913 approximately 50 prisoners declared a hunger strike. All such demonstrations were suppressed. The prison’s harsh regime was decried by the progressive public in Russia and abroad and condemned by the press. In 1913 the State Duma investigated conditions at Orel. The prison existed until February 1917.


Gernet, M. N. Istoriia tsarskoi tiur’my, vol. 5. Moscow, 1965. Pages 252–321.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.