Grim videos posted online by the independent newspaper Novaya gazeta appear to provide fresh evidence of inmates being tortured and abused by guards at a prison in the city of Yaroslavl that has been at the center of concerns about violence against convicts in Russia.
The release of the videos on March 11 follows the publication by Novaya gazeta of several clips in 2018, including one showing an inmate being beaten by at least 17 guards at Corrective Colony No. 1 in the city, 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow. That video caused a public outcry and led to the arrest of at least 15 guards and the former warden of the prison.
Novaya gazeta said that the new videos, like those released in 2018, were provided by Public Verdict, an NGO that assists victims of alleged human rights abuses. Public Verdict said it has appealed to the federal Investigative Committee to launch a probe based on the footage, which it says was shot by prison employees.
One of the newly released videos, shot in February 2017, shows a half-naked inmate identified as Pavel U. on the floor, surrounded by more than a dozen guards.
In a separate clip that appears to be from the same video, prison guards force Pavel U -- who looks like he has been beaten severely -- to smoke a cigarette that was smoked by an inmate from an ostracized group of prisoners known as the "offended" or "roosters."
In prisons across the former Soviet Union, inmates considered to be part of this outcast group have traditionally been subjected to elaborate physical and psychological abuse and forced to do the dirtiest jobs. Fellow inmates who eat from the same plate or smoke the same cigarette are branded as members of the outcast group themselves.
In a second video, filmed in October 2016, a prison guard beats an inmate who the newspaper said suffers from a medical condition after surgery on his head.
WARNING: Video contains distressing scenes
After the release of the videos from Corrective Colony No. 1 in 2018, authorities said that prior complaints from inmates across Russia would be investigated.
A probe was launched in November into the alleged torture of 25 inmates in a second prison in the Yaroslavl region.
The cases have brought into the spotlight what activists say is the widespread abuse and torture of Russian prison inmates.
Valery Maksimenko, deputy head of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN), said in November that the country needs more prisons to hold police officers, prison guards, and other law enforcement agents who have been convicted of crimes.