RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
Relative calm is being reported at a prison in the south of Russia on October 16, a day after a riot there by hundreds of prisoners.
The unrest was reported at the Correctional Colony No. 1 in Vladikavkaz, the regional capital of North Ossetia.
No one was injured in the riot, the human rights ombudsman in the Republic of South Ossetia, Tamerlan Tsgoyev, was quoted as saying by TASS on October 16. He added that prison authorities would meet with some of the prisoners to discuss their grievances.
Earlier reports spoke of additional security being deployed at the prison where some 600 inmates are reportedly incarcerated.
It’s still unclear what triggered the unrest.
According to the Interfax news agency, two prisoners ignored requests from guards during cell searches. They then incited other prisoners to riot, who then went on to destroy surveillance cameras.
However, in an interview published on the Telegram channel Mash, a prisoner’s relative said the riot was triggered by the tightening of the prison's regime.
But the Baza Telegram channel cited unidentified sources as saying the protest began after prison guards intervened in a conflict between two prisoners.
Prisoners in Russian penitentiaries have rioted for years to protest jail conditions, often maiming themselves to draw attention to their plight.
Recently, a prominent Russian human rights defender said he had received a large batch of videos that he claims show prison inmates being tortured by agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN).
Vladimir Osechkin wrote on Facebook on October 4 that the videos "prove" that FSB and FSIN members are using rape and other forms of torture to force inmates to cooperate with them and that they "themselves become part of the torture machine" by snitching on other inmates or by signing false testimonies prepared by investigators.
Russian prosecutors said on October 5 that they had launched a preliminary investigation into the videos already released by Osechkin, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov promised a "serious" probe if the incidents depicted in the clips turn out to be genuine.
One of the videos posted on the Vot-tak.tv website shows several people using a large stick to rape a naked man who is tied to a bed.
According to Osechkin, that video was shot in a Russian prison in February 2020.
The Mediazona website published three other videos purportedly showing inmates being tortured in a prison hospital in the city of Saratov.
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