New Year celebrated in prison with inmates’ concert

The end-of-the-year festive spirit takes over all Russians, including those behind bars. A concert to kick off the year is an inmate's chance to be creative and hope for a fresh start.

The closer the New Year's Eve, the shorter is my road back home,” says Stanislav, one of the prison’s inmates. “Happiness for me is a chance to celebrate the New Year alive and well. Every day is a learning experience for me here, but I wish time went by faster.”

Vladimir is another inmate who is playing Father Frost, or the Russian Santa Claus, in a prison production this year. He is certain that being an actor is his calling and intends to pursue this career when he leaves prison in five years.

Vladimir sounds insightful when talking about the holiday. “New Year's Eve gives everyone a chance to return to childhood. Nowadays, people don't believe in kindness, though it's something we believed in before,” he says.

Every New Year's Eve, Vladimir’s prison opens its doors and inmates' relatives can come to watch the show. The celebration of Russia’s most popular holiday turns into a celebration of human nature – against all odds.

Every inmate here has a personality,” says Dmitry Zhdanov, prison deputy warden. “We try our best to help them show that personality through music, theater, or in any other creative way.”