Russia Opens Probe Into Video Reports of Tortured Prisoners

MOSCOW—Russian regulation enforcement opened felony investigations into reviews of widespread prisoner abuse and several other officers within the penitentiary system had been fired in circumstances that human-rights advocates say level to systematic torture in prisons throughout the nation.

The probes come after jail activist group Gulagu.internet posted footage it says depicts abuse, humiliation and beatings in jail amenities, a part of a trove of greater than 1,000 movies that the group has been leaked. The Wall Avenue Journal couldn’t independently verify the veracity of the movies.

Whereas human-rights observers have typically reported cases of torture and abuse in Russian prisons, a few of which have led to public trials, the brand new leak seems to be one of many largest but, analysts stated.

The movies “show that grave and particularly violent crimes had been commonly dedicated towards prisoners, which had been rigorously hid,”

Vladimir Osechkin,

who runs Gulagu.internet, a human-rights mission centered on the Russian jail system, wrote on Fb Wednesday. Mr. Osechkin didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Russia’s jail service stated Wednesday that it fired 4 officers, together with the top of a jail hospital within the southwestern metropolis of Saratov, following the torture reviews. The Kremlin stated that if the movies had been confirmed, it will result in a critical probe.


One of many movies leaked to Gulagu.internet, a human-rights mission, confirmed an inmate and a guard, their faces blurred.



The Investigative Committee, the nation’s principal investigations company, stated it had opened seven felony probes, together with into sexual assault and abuse of energy in Saratov’s jail system. The committee stated it was investigating crimes towards 4 convicts in Saratov between January 2020 and Could 2021.

One of many movies revealed this week seems to indicate a person, tied to a mattress, being abused with a protracted pink stick as he screams in ache. One other video reveals a person tied up on the bottom as uniformed officers urinate on his face.

In one other video, a person seems to be laying facedown together with his palms tied behind him, as a guard pushes his boot into his shoulders and asks him “Who’re you in life?” The prisoner replies, “No one, a tramp.”

Human-rights observers stated that the movies replicate the horrific actuality in Russia’s jail system and are according to earlier leaks and torture circumstances. Gulagu.internet stated that the footage is a part of a video archive {that a} supply, who had labored for 5 years in Russia’s penitentiary system, managed to smuggle out of Russia. The supply is at the moment exterior of the nation and is looking for political asylum in Europe, the group stated.

“These movies are immensely horrendous and authorities want to research these surprising allegations promptly and successfully,” stated

Tanya Lokshina,

Moscow-based affiliate director at Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division. She stated her group wasn’t ready to confirm the movies however they’re “clearly harking back to earlier documented circumstances of torture.”


Russia’s Investigative Committee stated it had opened seven felony probes, together with into sexual assault and abuse of energy in Saratov’s jail system; a jail hospital in Saratov on Wednesday.


Filipp Kochetkov/Zuma Press

“It’s crystal clear that this isn’t nearly some random incidents, the issue of torture in Russian prisons could be very acute,” she stated. “It’s an epidemic.”

She added that in addition to investigating the jail officers, the victims, a few of whom had been uncovered within the movies, should urgently be shielded from additional abuse, together with by fellow inmates.

The depictions within the leaked movies add to a rising physique of proof of systematic abuse in Russia carried out by jail employees or different inmates, human-rights watchers say. In 2018, footage of alleged torture in a jail in Yaroslavl, northeast of Moscow, shocked the nation and led to a trial the place over a dozen officers had been discovered responsible and handed jail sentences. Russian authorities pledged inspections of all detention amenities on the time.

The identical yr, United Nations human-rights investigators stated that there was dependable data that torture was practiced broadly within the nation. Russian authorities have stated they’re reforming the system, amending laws to higher defend detainees and punishing those that abuse their place and break the regulation.

Analysts stated that the movies might add strain on President

Vladimir Putin’s

authorities, which is already going through rising public discontent amid stagnating residing requirements and restricted private freedoms.

“It is rather critical, particularly taking into consideration the final detrimental context, the rising public displeasure with the authorities,” stated

Abbas Gallyamov,

a Moscow-based political marketing consultant and former speechwriter for Mr. Putin. “It’s very exhausting to disclaim what you see with your personal eyes. Denying them would result in shedding the remainder of public belief—even among the many most loyal supporters.”

Write to Georgi Kantchev at

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