Russian Authorities Probe Alleged Abuses In Prisons After Torture Video Emerges

Russian federal authorities are cracking down against prison guards and local police in a series of abuse cases after video emerged on social media showing guards torturing a prison inmate in the city of Yaroslavl, northwest of Moscow.

The arrests and trials, which are not directly connected to the Yaroslavl video, appear to be part of a campaign by federal authorities to respond to public outrage over the prison-torture footage.

In Russia's North Caucasus region of Ingushetia on July 27, seven police were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to 10 years on charges of torturing 13 criminal suspects at a police post.

Meanwhile, a court in Siberia on July 27 sentenced one police officer to seven years and another to six years after convicting them of using electric shocks to torture three handcuffed suspects during an interrogation.

The court found the police also forced the suspects to wear gas masks and deprived them of oxygen during the 2015 interrogation into the case of a stolen sack of wheat in the Altai Krai region.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said the two police, whose names were not disclosed, abused their powers.

The sentences come in the wake of a scandal over a video showing at least 17 guards severely beating an inmate at a prison in Yaroslavl.

On July 25 and 26, a court in Yaroslavl ordered the arrest of six prison guards at the city’s Corrective Colony No. 1 for alleged involvement in the torture of inmate Yevgeny Makarov.

Video of the abuse of Makarov was published online last week by Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper and circulated widely on social media networks and by other websites.

In another case, Russia’s Investigative Committee said on July 25 that a prison guard in the western region of Bryansk had been charged with murdering an unidentified inmate and abuse of power. The name of the accused prison guard was not released.

In a statement, the Investigative Committee said the inmate died of asphyxiation on July 22 after the guard "bound” his face with a cloth.

Police in Russia’s western city of Voronezh confirmed on July 26 that they have launched an internal investigation into complaints by two students who allege they were tortured by police in May in an attempt to force a confession about a stolen mobile phone.

A former inmate in the Irkutsk region in Siberia, Ivan Bochkov, told RFE/RL on July 27 that he filed an official complaint with the prosecutor's office over what he says was torture by local police in 2014.

A penal colony in the northwestern region of Arkhangelsk announced an internal investigation on July 27 into claims by opposition activist Sergei Mokhnatkin that he was severely beaten by prison guards.

The 64-year-old Mokhnatkin had been sentenced in 2014 to 4 1/2 years in prison after being convicted of assaulting two police officers during a December 2013 antigovernment protest in Moscow.

Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service on July 24 announced that it will investigate all complaints from 2017 of violence by authorities at prisons across Russia.

United Nations human rights experts have urged Russian authorities to prosecute cases of torture in prisons and labor camps -- including beatings, electric shocks, and suffocation.

With reporting by Mediazona, Interfax, and TASS