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A video purportedly shows the torture of a prison inmate in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

One in every 10 Russians has experienced torture at the hands of law enforcement, according to a new poll released to coincide with the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26.

The poll by independent Russian pollster Levada Center, which was commissioned by the UN-affiliated Committee Against Torture, found that 60 percent of Russians view torture under any circumstances as impermissible, while 30 percent approve of it in specific cases, including against a serious criminal or to help save a life.

Of those who claimed to have experienced torture, 75 percent said it was aimed at humiliating or intimidating them.

"A significant proportion of people perceive courts and law enforcement agencies as a system that protects mainly the interests of the authorities or groups close to it," the report says.

Results of the survey, which included 3,400 respondents in 53 Russian regions, were first published by the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant on June 26.

The poll comes amid increased scrutiny over Russia's treatment of prisoners following several high-profile cases which have shed light on the use of torture by police.

It also comes after United Nations human rights investigators called on Russia last year to halt frequent torture of detainees and prosecute perpetrators.

In February, the Jehovah's Witnesses, a religious group banned in the country since 2017, alleged that at least seven of its members in the Siberian city of Surgut had been subjected to torture involving stun guns and suffocation by police.

In March, independent Russian newspaper Novaya gazeta posted videos appearing to show evidence of inmates being tortured and abused by guards at a prison in the city of Yaroslavl.

Similar scenes of torture, including videos depicting an inmate being beaten by at least 17 guards at the city's Corrective Colony No. 1, were shown in a separate video released in 2018.

A public outcry over that video led to the arrest of at least 15 guards and the former warden of the prison.

Speaking during his daily call-in with journalists on June 26, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, declined to comment on the results of the survey since the Kremlin had yet to scrutinize them.

"We must very carefully analyze what kind of survey this is," he said. "What the sample is, what exact question was asked. Using the language of sociologists, what methodology was used."

Peskov also elicited surprise by appearing to question the journalists -- including Western reporters dialed in to the call -- on whether they could substantiate the statistics.

"We have around 30 people on this conference call, right? Right," he said. "Who has experienced torture from representatives of law enforcement? Identify yourselves."

With reporting from Meduza and Kommersant
Protesters waive the Georgian flag near the parliament building in Tbilisi early on June 26.

TBILISI -- Thousands of protesters have rallied in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, for the sixth consecutive day, demanding the resignation of the interior minister.

The protesters were also angered by the announcement that an opposition lawmaker is facing prosecution over the anti-government protests.

Former President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili joined the crowd gathered in front of the parliament building on the evening of June 25, and expressed his support for the protesters.

"The truth and strength are here…a true wish for a bright future of Georgia is here,” Margvelashvili said.

Former Georgian President Margvelashvili Joins Protests Outside Parliament
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Several demonstrators announced that they had started a hunger strike. One of them was taken to hospital due to low blood sugar, the Health Ministry told RFE/RL.

The protesters are demanding, among other things, the dismissal of Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia, whom they accuse of using excessive force to break up a demonstration five days earlier.

Demonstrators initially gathered outside parliament on June 20, when they attempted to storm the parliament building. Violent clashes between protesters and police resulted in hundreds of injuries and arrests.

The protesters were angered at a Russian lawmaker who had sat in the Georgian parliamentary speaker's seat while addressing a council of deputies from predominantly Orthodox Christian countries.

The move sparked the ire of the public, opposition parties, the president, and members of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition in a country where ties with Moscow remain strained after a five-day war in 2008.

Earlier on June 25, prosecutors said they summoned Nika Melia, an opposition lawmaker and a leader of former President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement party, the next day to be formally charged with organizing violent actions by protesters.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office said it had appealed to the parliament with a proposal to consider stripping Melia of parliamentary immunity and agreeing to his detention.

Melia rejected the charge against him as "absurd,’ while opposition parties issued a joint statement denouncing the move as "political persecution."

According to the Prosecutor-General's Office, 121 people were detained on charges of confronting police and obstructing public order on the night of June 20-21. Some of them have already served short jail sentences, while 54 remain in custody.

Meanwhile, the parliament elected a Georgian Dream party candidate as the chamber’s new speaker following the resignation of his predecessor, Irakli Kobakhidze, amid calls for his ouster.

Archil Talakvadze was elected unanimously as opposition lawmakers left the session in protest after the ruling party refused to consider the interior minister's sacking.

The Georgian Dream party has so far accepted one of the protesters’ demands, agreeing to hold the 2020 parliamentary elections under a proportional system.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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