Siberian Prison Guards Accused Of Torturing Inmates

A Russian nongovernmental rights group says it has filed an official complaint over the alleged torture of inmates at a penal colony in the Siberian region of Zabaikalye.

The move comes in the wake of a scandal over a video showing guards severely beating an inmate at a prison northeast of Moscow.

Lawyers with the Zona Prava (Law Zone) rights watchdog said on August 1 that two inmates at the Zabaikalye region's Corrective Colony No. 5 testified that several prisoners had recently been beaten and tortured with electric shocks.

The lawyers said one of the inmates, Aleksandr Nokhrin, claimed that he and several other prisoners were beaten and tortured on July 8 by at least five guards who were allegedly "in a state of alcoholic intoxication."

Another inmate, Yevgeny Afanasyev, said he heard the prisoners being beaten and begging guards to stop.

When other prisoners asked about what was happening, the guards used tear gas against them, according to Afanasyev's testimony.

The lawyers said they met with the inmates on July 11, after which they filed an official complaint with local prosecutors, who they said had not formally responded yet.

The torture allegations follow the release of a video showing at least 17 guards severely beating an inmate at a prison in Yaroslavl that caused an outcry.

Last week, a local court ordered the arrest of seven prison guards at Corrective Colony No. 1 and put one guard under house arrest for alleged involvement in the beating of Yevgeny Makarov.

Authorities said four other guards were detained on August 1.

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

The Public Verdict rights organization said it was shot at the penitentiary last year.

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 the 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