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A person receives a dose of the Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 at an inoculation center in a shopping mall in St. Petersburg. (file photo)

Police in the northwestern Russian city of St. Petersburg have detained a doctor and four nurses suspected of issuing fake COVID-19 vaccination certifications.

According to an Investigative Committee statement on October 23, the five work at a health clinic at the Pavlov State Medical University. They are accused of giving people paper and online certificates of vaccination while destroying the unused vaccines.

The authorities said they were investigating 12 alleged cases, for which the medical workers purportedly received more than 100,000 rubles ($1,425).

If convicted, the medical workers could face up to 12 years in prison.

The Russian Interior Ministry issued the arrest warrant for Syarhey Savelyeu on October 23 without specifying the crime that he is accused of.

MOSCOW -- Russia has issued an arrest warrant for a former prison inmate who has admitted to releasing graphic video evidence of hundreds of cases of inmate torture by other inmates at the direction of prison officials.

The Interior Ministry on October 23 issued the warrant without specifying the crime that the Belarus-born Syarhey Savelyeu is accused of.

According to the prisoners’ rights NGO Gulagu.net, which published some of the videos and reported on their contents, Moscow intends to send documentation on Savelyeu to Interpol to seek his extradition.

After leaking the videos, Savelyeu left Russia and is seeking political asylum in France.

Gulagu.net founder Vladimir Osechkin told RFE/RL that his organization will forward all the materials it received from Savelyeu to authorities in France. He also said his group will ask Interpol to suspend Russia’s participation in the network until the country’s prison and judicial systems have been reformed and torture rooted out.

Five senior prison officials have been fired since Gulagu.net published the videos earlier this month.

As an inmate, Savelyeu -- an IT specialist -- helped operate a prison computer network that gave him access to the videos.

Gulagu.net has said guards and other prison officials bribed or forced inmates to torture other inmates in order to secure false testimony. The videos purportedly show hundreds of cases of rape and other torture at Russian prisons and pretrial detention centers in several regions.

In an interview with Gulagu.net, Savelyeu said he believes Russia will seek to charge him with disclosing state secrets.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened seven criminal cases in connection with the leaked videos.

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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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