A Russian human rights activist says 20 inmates at Russia's notorious Vladimir Central jail have slashed their wrists to protest their planned transfer to what they call a "torture colony."
Boris Panteleyev, head of the St. Petersburg-based Committee for Civil Rights, wrote on Facebook on October 12 that the inmates do not have any other means to protest their transfer to the Corrective Colony No. 3 in the city of Vladimir, about 200 kilometers east of Moscow.
"According to numerous statements by relatives and former inmates, that facility is 'a torture colony,' where inmates are beaten, tortured, killed (for instance, an inmate Gor Avakimyan was killed there), and raped," Panteleyev wrote.
Panteleyev also said human rights organizations are preparing an official letter to Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) asking for more information about the prisoners' situation.
The jail warden has rejected Panteleyev's claims.
Lyudmila Romanova, the regional ombudswoman in Vladimir, told the TASS news agency that she plans to visit the jail in Vladimir to investigate the situation.
Panteleyev's statement comes less than a week after a riot by inmates at a penal colony in the Siberian city of Omsk.
The inmates’ relatives and rights defenders said that prisoners in Omsk protested against beatings by guards.
The issue of torture in the Russian penal system has been in the spotlight since July when a video showing at least 17 guards beating an inmate in the Yaroslavl region was released on the Internet by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.