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A prison guard in western Russia's Bryansk region has been detained on suspicion of suffocating an inmate to death by binding his face with a piece of cloth.

The Investigative Committee said on July 24 that the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) officer is accused of "using violence and special security means that limited a convict's ability to move."

The guard "bound [the inmate's] face with cloth, as a result of which the latter died of asphyxiation," the committee said in a statement. It said the incident occurred on July 22.

It is the second case of alleged violent abuse at a Russian penitentiary to emerge into the open in recent days.

The Investigative Committee said on July 23 that six FSIN officers were detained after a video showing the brutal beating of a prison inmate circulated in the Internet last week.

The video, which Public Verdict NGO said was shot at Corrective Colony No. 1 in the Yaroslavl region, northeast of Moscow, showed a prisoner identified as Yevgeny Makarov lying on a desk without pants while two people in uniform forcibly hold his hands up behind his back. At least 10 other uniformed men methodically hit the man's legs and heels with rubber truncheons and fists, while he cries and begs them to stop beating him.

The Investigative Committee said that all the officers on the video had been identified and a probe was launched into what it called "a crime."

A lawyer who gave a Russian newspaper the video has fled the country while seeking protection from state law enforcement authorities.

The FSIN said on July 24 that it will investigate all reports about violence in penitentiaries across Russia in 2017.

With reporting by RIA Novosti and TASS
Mikhail Savostin (file photo)

The Moscow-based human rights group Memorial says it has determined that Mikhail Savostin, an activist charged with illegal drug possession, is a political prisoner.

Memorial said on July 23 that the authorities' case against Savostin contains "elements of intentional falsification."

Savostin, who is a senior member of Assembly of the Peoples of the Caucasus and the independent trade union Solidarnost (Solidarity), was arrested in April after police stopped his car in his native city of Mineralnyye Vody in the North Caucasus.

Police said they found two packets of marijuana in his possession. Savostin denies it and contends that the drugs were planted by police to frame him.

In late June, Savostin started a hunger strike protesting his arrest.

A similar case in another North Caucasus region, Chechnya, has also been highlighted by human rights groups since January.

The head of Memorial’s branch in Chechnya, Oyub Titiyev, was arrested after police stopped his car in early January and claimed they found a pack of marijuana in the automobile. Titiyev is now currently on trial on a charge of illegally possessing the drug.

Titiyev and colleagues at Memorial have called the accusation absurd and accused the police of planting the drugs.

If convicted, Savostin and Titiyev could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

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