ANGARSK, Russia -- Relatives of inmates in Russia's Irkutsk region have picketed a penitentiary and a detention center, demanding detailed information about their family members following a violent prison riot.
Dozens of protesters in the Siberian town of Angarsk on May 4 held single-person protests -- which do not require preapproval from the authorities -- in front of Correctional Colony No. 15 and Detention Center No. 6.
On April 9, the colony's administration said guards quelled a riot, blaming the incident on a prisoner who allegedly assaulted a guard, while prisoners claimed the incident was touched off by the beating of a prisoner by a guard.
Pavel Glushchenko, the chairman of the group For Human Rights, told RFE/RL that the inmates' relatives demanded detailed information about the current whereabouts of the prisoners and that lawyers be allowed to visit them.
Glushchenko added that after the riot, the exact whereabouts of 54 inmates remained unknown and that human rights organizations and the inmates' relatives had demanded an explanation from the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN).
"In one particular case, officials refused to provide information about the health of an inmate, who after the riot was transferred from the colony to Detention Center No. 6. The authorities said the inmate did not want the information about his health to be made public. However, before the riot, such information would be provided to relatives immediately. There are many similar cases. It looks like [the authorities] are buying time, waiting for when the injuries inmates suffered to their bodies have healed," Glushchenko said.
The relatives said they will keep picketing the colony and the detention center until their demands are met.
Inmates in Russia and many other former Soviet republics riot regularly, often maiming themselves to draw attention to poor conditions, the abuse of their rights, and cruelty inflicted upon them by guards and prison staff.