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Russian Whose Prison-Torture Claim Caused Outcry Is Freed, Says He Is 'Damaged'

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Brutalized Russian Prisoner Released Amid Torture Allegations
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WATCH: Brutalized Russian Prisoner Released Amid Torture Allegations

YAROSLAVL, Russia -- A Russian man whose videotaped abuse by prison guards caused a public outcry has been released, but says he is traumatized and "damaged" after seven years confined to what he called a "slave state" behind bars.

Yevgeny Makarov, who was sentenced to six years and 10 months for robbery and battery in 2011, left Corrective Colony No. 8 in the city of Yaroslavl on October 2.

The slight 25-year-old's ordeal was put in the spotlight when independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta published video footage showing more than a dozen guards at another prison in Yaroslavl beating Makarov for a long period of time as he lay prone on a table.

Human rights groups said it was torture, and the chilling footage prompted UN rights experts to urge the Russian authorities to prosecute reported cases of torture -- including beatings, electric shocks, and suffocation -- in holding cells, jails, and prisons.

Speaking to journalists who met him at the gates of the prison in the city northeast of Moscow, Makarov said he was now free after years in "slavery."

The Russian prison service "has created a little slave state of its own.... The law is not being implemented at all there," Makarov said.

Prison authorities "give people no freedom and are constantly bullying" prisoners, he said.

Makarov told RFE/RL that after the video of his beating became public, he was placed in solitary confinement for more than 80 days and was threatened by prison guards.

Amid a public outcry over the video, local authorities launched an investigation and arrested 12 guards at Yaroslavl's Corrective Colony No. 1.

The Federal Penitentiary Service then announced that it would investigate all complaints of violence by authorities at prisons across Russia from 2017, when Novaya Gazeta said Makarov's beating most likely took place.

"All those 80 days [in solitary confinement] and all those events that happened to me certainly traumatized me. My psychological state is of course damaged," Makarov told RFE/RL.

Prison authorities "did not like the fact that their employees were under arrest. They simply did not expect that. And they tried to befoul me by any means possible, to irritate me with words and provocative phrases," Makarov said.

There were even such provocations when they...put my Bible on top of my underwear, hoping I would get mad so that they could film me on their camera upset and using vulgar words. They fully understood that this kind of thing would easily drive me crazy," he said.

"They did not allow me to keep my socks in the cell after I washed them," Makarov added. "They took them from my cell wet and kept them somewhere rotting wet and a week later they were returning my socks to me still wet and moldy... They were violating my rights even in these minor things. They gave me dry tea and did not give me boiled water."

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    RFE/RL's Russian Service

    RFE/RL's Radio Svoboda is the leading international broadcaster in Russia. As Russia witnesses increasing control of the media by state authorities, Radio Svoboda has become a key forum for those who lack access to other means of free expression.

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