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The English Prisoner Paperback – 2 Apr 2009
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In July 2003, young Englishman Tig Hague was on a routine business trip to Moscow when he was arrested at the airport. Within hours, he was accused of a major crime. Next, he was tried and transported hundreds of miles to the remote, forsaken wastes of Mordovia. And prison camp Zone 22. Sentenced to spend the next four years there, every day was a struggle against disease, freezing temperatures, malnutrition, the unpredictable, sometimes terrifying behaviour of the camp guards and his fellow prisoners. But, most of all, it was a fight to ensure his own psychological survival.Only the thought of his girlfriend Lucy, fighting Russia's corrupt and labyrinthine legal system, kept Tig sane - and gave him a reason to see each day to its end. "The English Prisoner" is an extraordinary story of endurance, as one man - plucked from his normal, everyday life - is forced to reach deep inside himself to survive life in one of the bleakest outposts in the world: Russia's vast and unforgiving 'forgotten zone'.
About the Author
Tig Hague works in the City of London. He lives in Essex with his wife, Lucy, and their young daughter.
Top customer reviews
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funny and emotional all at once
plus its true
this poor guy and his frds and family went thoough hell ...
Framed by corrupt Russian customs officials, and treated with disdain by an even more corrupt Russian judicial system, the author is sentenced to a lengthy jail term in the squalid jails of the Russian penal system.
Even though being severely 'put-out' by the way that he was stitched-up, Tig tried to buckle down and learn to survive within the system, looking forward to his eventual parole date - until he discovers that, within this system, eligible parolees can be held for years after their official date!
This is a story of determination and fortitude, under conditions that may well cause the majority of men to buckle, as Tig learns how to live with the system, and manipulate it from within as best he can.
As well as showing deficiencies within Russia, this book also shows that not all Russians are 'tarred with the same brush', and some are indeed humane and caring, as some of Tig's business acquaintances attempt to help him in various ways.
Even among prisoners, some guilty of violent crimes, there is a tendency to some acts of kindness towards each other, partly born out of the necessity to banding together against a harsh system.
It is disturbing to realise that the treatment of prisoners detailed in this book relate to 'Foreign' prisoners, and that the treatment of Russian nationals within the system is probably much harsher.
An enthralling story, which although not having the suspense of fiction, is a 'must read' if only to highlight the corrupted State that is Russia!
The details regarding the treatment of prisoners in Russia, and the disgusting conditions in which they are held, need to be well publicised so that the realities of corruption within the Russian state are highlighted to the world, and this book helps to do just that.
In writing his story Tig manages, once the harrowing events are far enough behind, to inject a modicum of humour into his narration at times. On finally leaving his place of imprisonment he takes his leave by telling one fellow inmate "I won't shake you hand if you don't mind mate ; Keep plugging away though - the world record can't be far off now!". I leave it to readers to discover Tig's meaning, and thus the humour of the statement.
There were a few ommisions to my mind. The book starts off with him arriving hungover in Moscow and although we pick up some general information regarding his life, job, family and friends there is little background information letting you find out about who this guy was prior to his time in Zone 22. Tig Hague comes across as fairly likeable and the poorer behaviour on his part is understandable given his situation. Hoever, I didn't always feel as sympathetic as I should have. I am not too sure why this was. I competely understand how and why he became so fixated on his family and his girlfriend and I am sure I would done the same. That said I couldn't feel the sense of loss or frustration he was obvioulsy trying to convey when talking about his girlfriend/wife but strangely I really did feel for his mother and father. I was completely unmoved by the real sacrifices Lucy made visiting him and even marrying him in Zone 22 and even at the death from cancer of her own mother while Hague was inside. This may just be down to a lack of writing ability or poor background information as I never really felt I knew her or felt the connection he and her obviously have.
Also, and I suppose this is not Hague's fault but I found that the fear of what could happen was the scariest part of the story and that in reality other than having to put up with very difficult physical conditions and having his freedom removed it was not as horrific as I had expected. Anytime I have imagined prison (in any country) my biggest fear is usually other prisoners - being beaten, raped, bullied or stolen from. Mr Hague seems to have been very lucky, in that Russia appears to segregate foreign prisoners from locals (Zone 22 is for foreigners) and keeps prisoners in their cells all day (at least in Piet Central) and this mostly stops them being targetted by other prisoners, although it adds to the boredom. While there is mention of violence by prisoners on prisoners it is not anywhere near as bad as you may expect even in a British prison. In fact the two fights involving Hague in Zone 22 are both his fault (he is in a bad mood on both occasions and choses to argue with a known troublemaker) and on both occasions he is bailed out by other prisoners and there seems to be no grudges held afterwards. As for sexual violence again it is briefly mentioned in relation to other prisoners but there seems to have been no sexual threat to Mr Hague and he seems to have always landed on his feet in that he always found others to guide and on occasion protect him. There is no mention of bullying or even any attempts at it despite him being a very well off prisoner and not partucularly tough. I would also have liked a little more detail regarding the fate(if known) of some of the other prisoners. The guards always seem to pose the biggest threat and maybe this helps stop prisoner on prisoner abuse. Particularly Zubi his mentor from Piet who he had to distance himself from in the Zone but also his African friends who were released and even Ergin, Sasha and Benny also small matters like who are the two people who have a 5 mintue meeting with him and give him cigarettes and promise him that he will be released by the end of March.
Overall the book starts really well and there is enough detail and good descriptions of the prisons, other prisoners and the deperately corrupt guards to make the stay interesting. However, I could help but feel that the boredom and monotony of prison life also made it way into the book (though not on purpose) and after the initial fear had gone the story was really one of bribing guards and hanging about serving his time, waiting to get out. However, The story does keep moving and it is easy to picture yourslf in his situation and for that reason alone the book is worth a read.
Usually the best part of any book on this kind of subject matter is the first 100 pages before routine sets in.
This book is the same, what it lacks is the sheer brutality often read about in the third world , and a good escape attempt. During his time he literally spent thousands in bribes to secure his release but in the end this turned against him as they didn't want to let their little cash cow go!
In the book one fellow prisoner who he rejected as his "food friend" saves him from a difficult situation.
Then after serving his sentence and giving all his possessions away at the end he makes no real attempt in the book to reward his saviour materially- There's gratitude for you! As we are talking about people here who have less then nothing- I found that really strange if not unreal
As a visitor to Russia my self twice for business. I can well appreciate the endemic corruption absolutely everywhere! As I was blindly ripped off twice and then pick pocketed all in one day!