Ukraine’s prisons go up for sale

The Lukyanivska prison complex in Kiev, Ukraine (file image).
The Lukyanivska prison complex in Kiev, Ukraine (file image). © AFP / FRANCE 24

The Irpin Penal Centre, a vast prison complex outside of Kiev, has been empty since inmates were moved out last year. Now, according to the Ukrainian government, it could represent a prime opportunity for one lucky investor.


The jail will be the first to go under the hammer in a major sell-off of the country’s penitentiaries as part of plans to fund a much-needed overhaul of the ageing prison system.

"We want to sell about a hundred facilities. The first ones will be those already closed. The second stage is the sale of pre-trial detention centres in the city centre. With the money received from the sale, we will build new pre-trial detention centres,” Said Ukrainian justice minister Denys Maliuska.

Irpin was built in 1944 and spans some eight hectares. Its surrounds include a railway and a nature area, making it an attractive proposition for potential buyers, said Maliuska.

"It's a huge area, a territory that is not claimed. The neighbours will be happy if something is built here, but not a prison,” he said.

The process of selling the prisons is expected to take 10 years.

Also set to go up for sale is Kiev’s notorious Lukyanivska complex, home to around 2,500 prisoners and where overcrowded and unsanitary conditions have been condemned by human rights groups.

More than 51,000 people are held in some 130 prisons across Ukraine, according to official figures, mostly in old facilities with dire conditions that according to a 2016 US State Department report pose a “serious threat to the life and health of prisoners”.

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