Prisoners languishing in Russian jails were physically and sexually abused by top officers in scenes reminiscent of a “concentration camp,” Vladimir Osechkin, the activist who published leaked clips of the torture, has said.
In a statement published online on Thursday, the founder of the Gulagu.net prison news portal wrote that, at the Saratov prison hospital where the allegations have been centered, staff were explicitly involved in degrading and painful treatment. “Sadists were handed titles like ‘caregivers’ and ‘nurses.’ They carried out rounds, completely controlled prisoners and had power over them.”
According to him, ranking members of the country’s prison service “beat, tortured and raped prisoners making use of other convicts to do it.” The group’s leaked documents reportedly also show that doctors prescribed drugs to prisoners to effectively render them mentally incapable before they were transferred to asylums. Osechkin went on to describe the revelations as “a crime against humanity” and called for an “international investigation” into the incident.
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Four officers have been fired in the wake of Gulagu’s revelations of abuse at the Saratov prison tuberculosis hospital, including the head of the institution. Alexander Kalashnikov, the head of the federal prison service, dismissed the workers and launched an investigation into the circumstances.
A tranche of videos leaked to the overseas-based campaigning organization appeared to show officers beating inmates, violating one with a long stick, and forcing others to perform sexual acts while being filmed.
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“If the authenticity of these materials is confirmed, then, of course, this is a pretext for a serious investigation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. “First we must quickly, but calmly, establish the authenticity of these materials.”
In an interview with RT last week, Osechkin said that there was far more to come from the archive of clips handed to his group, showing the extent of torture at other prisons as well. “We have identified almost everyone to whom this happened. Now, lawyers and investigators will be working with them and there are at least 10 criminal cases coming over these terrible acts,” he said.
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