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Ombudswoman Of Russia's Buryatia Calls On Federal Penitentiary Service To Investigate Controversial Video

ULAN-UDE, Russia -- The ombudswoman of the Russian region of Buryatia, Yulia Zhambalova, says she wants a music video clip containing scenes that Internet users called "violence against inmates" to be investigated by the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN).

Zhambalova said on May 14 that the request to investigate the video made by officials of the FSIN directorate in the Siberian region will be sent to the regional prosecutor's office as well.

The video that was placed on YouTube on May 13 seems to be a promotion calling on young people to join FSIN.

In the video, men and women in FSIN uniforms sing a song praising their work, benefits, and compensation, while portraits of President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials are seen in the background.

"We serve Russia's best, follow our oath, the code of honor, we are FSIN operatives," the officers sing, dancing and waving flags of Russia and Buryatia inside and outside of the FSIN directorate building in the regional capital, Ulan-Ude.

A scene that has provoked an angry reaction on the Internet shows a person playing the role of an inmate being handcuffed, having his hand bent behind his back and his head forcibly grabbed by two female FSIN officers, singing, "This is a fight against criminals, a kingpin is howling like a dog, we are FSIN operatives!"

Another scene that sparked condemnation by Internet users shows a FSIN officer aiming a crossbow at an apple placed on the head of person playing the role of an inmate.

Representatives of the FSIN directorate in Buryatia told RFE/RL on May 14 that the video was produced by FSIN employees, adding that it was not placed on the official site because it was made "for internal use."

The FSIN officers' attitude toward inmates has been under criticism after a video showing an inmate being severely beaten by at least 17 FSIN guards in a prison in the city of Yaroslavl was made public in July.

The video caused a public outcry. Russian law enforcement authorities arrested at least 12 guards at that prison and announced that previous complaints by inmates across Russia would be investigated.

Another probe was launched in November 2018 into the alleged torture of 25 inmates in another 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.

Last month, Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika said inspections revealed mass violations of inmates' rights in every second region in the country.

With reporting by TASS