Igor Davydenko is rail-thin with dark circles under his eyes. He has a haunted look, reinforced by black prison overalls with reflective tape on the shoulders and cuffs.
Davydenko could be labeled as a loser in many ways. The 31-year-old is a drug addict, serving time for robbery and assault. He’s serving his third stretch in a Siberian prison.
But Davydenko is about to become a winner in at least one way. If all goes well, he will soon be declared cured of one of the deadliest forms of tuberculosis.
In the last decade, Russia has found itself contending with new strains of TB that are resistant to many drugs and hard to cure. For years, prisons were considered to be one of the most dangerous pockets of drug-resistant TB in Russia and a source of the disease in the general community. In 2002, more than 79,000 inmates had active TB infections, and drug-resistant forms were present in about 50 percent of chronic cases.
But the Russian prison system has been working to change that.
Photos by Konstantin Salomatin for NPR