Allegations Of 'Systematic' Torture At Russian Prison Under Investigation

A rights group in Russia says that authorities are investigating allegations of "systematic" beatings and torture at a second prison in the Yaroslavl region.

The NGO Public Verdict said on December 27 that a lawyer on its staff, Irina Biryukova, was present a day earlier when Investigative Committee officers questioned four inmates who complained that they had been tortured at Corrective Colony No. 3 in the city of Uglich.

According to Public Verdict, one inmate -- Aleksandr Kochergin -- claims that on October 24, he was stripped naked, forced to do 50 squats, and beaten.

When he screamed that he has low immunity due to HIV, the beating continued, and he was then confined to a tiny, unheated cell under a stairway – the kind of space in which it is typically impossible to sit or stand straight.

"The torture only stopped when convicts on two floors [of the unit] began to shout and bang on the doors of their cells," Public Verdict said in a statement.

It said another inmate, Nurali Nurov, said he has been beaten repeatedly since 2016 -- including on his first day at the prison, when he refused to sign documents without a translation from Russian into his native language, and another time after he testified that he had seen bruises on the body of a fellow inmate.

According to Biryukova, 25 inmates are considered victims in the case.

She said the investigation was opened in November but that the inmates only learned about it last weekend.

In July, Public Verdict provided the newspaper Novaya Gazeta with a video that showed at least 17 guards beating an inmate who lies prone on a table at Corrective Colony No. 1 in the regional capital, Yaroslavl.

The video caused a public outcry.

Russian law enforcement authorities arrested at least 12 guards at that prison and announced that prior complaints by inmates across Russia would be investigated.

The cases have shone a spotlight on what activists say is widespread abuse and torture of Russian prison inmates.

Valery Maksimenko, deputy head of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN), said that the country needs more prisons to hold police officers, prison guards, and other law enforcement agents who have been convicted of crimes.