2016 - Ongoing
Boys from 14 to 18 years old who committed various crimes including hooliganism, rape and murder serve their sentences in the young offender institution in Saint-Petersburg. For many of the boys, who grew up neglected, life in this prison is more comfortable than it was outside. Instead of a chaotic street life and a suffocating environment of a dysfunctional family, the prison community offers clearly established rules, protection and stability. This prison has a well-developed infrastructure including a church, a gym, sports grounds, a library, a kitchen and a factory.
At the same time, for many convicts the habits they adopted in prison create the ground for entering the big criminal world since the way of life in the colony gives an idea of a rigidly hierarchized community where each member has its own specially indicated place and function.
Another problem in supporting prisoners is that after being released they fall into the old criminal world where it's prestigious to be a criminal. In many ways this attitude to crime is formed by mass culture.
For the first time I visited this colony as a volunteer 15 years before I started to shoot this story. Convicted boys and I were of almost the same age at that time, and I unintentionally compared their life with my life. The administration of the colony asked me to organise an orienteering team of my friends. It is a common practice in Russia, when prisoners who maintain good behavior are taken out of a colony to a disciplinary event. For a whole day through, my friends and thieves, murderers, and rapists ran in the woods, cooked food on a fire, and talked friendly. We joked about whether everyone would get back from the woods, but no one escaped. A prisoner who looked very good-natured confessed to me in the evening that he had killed a person, and asked what I thought about it. I think about this question up to now.