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Russia Probing Video Purporting To Show Prison Torture

Russian authorities are looking into a video purporting to show an inmate being tortured by prison guards in the Yaroslavl region.

Russia's Investigative Committee said on July 20 that a probe had been launched into what it called "a crime" committed by Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) employees in a prison in the Yaroslavl region, adding that the guards "violently abused their authority."

The FSIN directorate in the Yaroslavl region said the same day that it had also launched an investigation into "unlawful actions" by penitentiary employees.

The 10-minute video was made public on July 20 by the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which said it had been received from the nongovernmental rights organization Public Verdict.

According to Novaya Gazeta, the video was shot in June 2017, and shows a prisoner identified as Yevgeny Makarov lying on a desk without pants while two persons in uniform forcibly hold his hands up behind his back.

At least 10 other men in uniform methodically hit the man's legs and heels with rubber truncheons and fists, while the man is loudly crying and begging for them to stop beating him.

The uniformed men occasionally pour water from a white bucket over the victim's head.

The men in uniform seem to be tired and some of them take off their shirts and wipe sweat from their faces.

One of them says: "Look, his leg is swelling!"

Another answers: "Well, man, my own hands are swollen."

Toward the middle of the video, the man stops crying although the beating continues, most likely briefly losing consciousness.

On the fourth minute of the recording, a man with colonel's insignia takes a truncheon and hits the crying man's heels. Then he says "Okay, next shift!" and gives the truncheon to another man.

At the sixth minute, the tortured man begs the men in uniform to stop torturing him and they drag him down from the desk.

One of the men in uniform confronts the tortured man with a question: "Why did you call me a red dog?"

The man says: "I am sorry."

But the men in uniform continue the beating.

The video stops at the 11th minute when the seminaked man is thrown back onto the desk, apparently for more beating.

Reports of systemic torture in that particular prison, and in Russian prisons generally, have circulated for some time.

In April 2017, Public Verdict reported on torture in that penitentiary, saying that prisoners Makarov, Ivan Nepomnyashchikh (who was imprisoned following clashes at a protest on the eve of President Vladimir Putin's 2012 inauguration and who served his 30-month term in that penal colony), and Ruslan Vakhapov had been tortured by guards there.

The European Court of Human Rights ordered Russia to thoroughly investigate the allegations, but a court in Yaroslavl ruled that investigations were not necessary, citing a purported lack of evidence.

Based on reporting by Novaya Gazeta and
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