"As Red as Blood". The story of Nizhny Novgorod Penal Colony No. 14, which is described as “a torture chamber” by human right activists and “a showcase” by employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service, Medizona

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17 August 2016

Ups and downs of Vasily Voloshin, the Colony Head, who built a system of absolute power in Sukhobezvodnoe settlement and is now hiding abroad from the charges of a bread bin stealing.

Photo: Aleksey Malgavko / RIA Novosti

Activists and corpses. “Do not show this to the doctors, replace the photo”

The spring in Sukhobezvodnoe settlement of Nizhny Novgorod region was cold, and two prisoners of local Penal Colony No. 14 “were brushing the pipe” — cleaning the waste pipe from ice in the closed yard in front of the prison barracks. This pointless work that drives people crazy has become a usual practice for character building and punishment of convicts long time ago. 

“Brushing the pipe” is not the only example. Prisoners of Penal Colony No. 14 were made to rub (“shave”) the ice with a tooth brush in the yard, clean the same urinal unit again and again, tamp the ground with a huge log all day long (“trombone”), carry water from the ground floor to the first floor pouring it into the sewage system, and cart a tractor trailer filled with sand and stones at the territory.

“Because we were rubbing the water drain with brushes slowly, at first, the superiors took me to the squad, I was beaten, then convict Kozlov was taken to the squad twice and he was beaten. After this beating we were forced to rub the ice again with the brushes”, — memories of Viktor Lutsenko (the name of the character is changed for safety reasons), one of the convicts cleaning the pipe with the brush that day.

They were beaten not by the colony officers but by the “activists”, convicts close to the administration, in charge of maintaining the brutal order of Penal Colony No. 14. Other convicts call these people respectfully “superiors” in their complaints.

“In fact this is not quite normal regime, as in convicts’ slang it is called “the red zone”, and this one is extremely red, it is a very brutal core group. The convicts are in charge there, it means the administration employees just go to work, give some instructions to the activists, and the communication with all other convicts goes on through these people. It is these convicted activists who performed the functions of policemen and controlled the whole colony”, explained Oleg Khabibrakhmanov, a member of “The Committee for Prevention of Torture” and a member of Nizhny Novgorod public monitoring committee which monitors the compliance with the human rights in the places of detention.

According to Lutsenko’s words, at some moment his companion in this hard work, Mikhail Kozlov, “rushed to the window”, after that he was captured and taken away by two activists. In the evening Lutsenko saw him in the changing room — “there was Kozlov without any clothes, lying on the floor, his hands were scotch taped”; and at night when the colony officers were patrolling the barracks, he was found dead already. Kozlov was covered with a wet bed sheet with stains of blood on it.

Nikolay Molotov (the name is changed) who was on duty in squad No. 12 speaks of the circumstances of his death; in fact it was him who controlled the actions of this squad activists, working for the administration. Molotov recalled that Kozlov had a conflict with another activist and he was transferred to squad No. 12 as punishment by the Head of the Colony Safety Unit, Mr. Galashov himself”. The convict retells his words: “Galashov told me: ”Take this animal and, I want him ***** [to get the works] there. Is this clear?” Kozlov complained that he was constantly beaten in the squad.

“He could barely stand on his feet”, — Moltov confirms. “But a few days later Galashov called me and asked why he was sitting and not working with the brushes. I told him that he was so thin that he was falling all the time. Galashov hung up and an hour later Voloshin called and told me to make Kozlov ******* [suffer] from the brush and dusters. I answered: “I got it”. I called for Kozlov and told him to go and rub the drain”.

Vasiliy Voloshin, the Head of Penal Colony No. 14, took this position in 2014, before that he was Head of Security and Field Work. Human rights activists name Voloshin, who started his career as a junior inspector, the architect of the system built in Penal Colony No. 14. Activists in the colony were called “Voloshin’s sons” and they call him (according to other convicts’ testimonies) “Pakhan (a crime boss)”. Khabibrakhmanov noted: “This colony was always hard to understand. The higher positions Voloshin got, the crueler the system became there”.

Lutsenko remembers very well the main activist of squad No. 12, Mr. Molotov. According to the convict’s words it was Molotov who made him and other convicts write false explanatory reports about the death of another person, Miraz Dzhavoyan, who died in winter 2014. Lutsenko says: “I saw Dzhavoyan several times, he was all beaten, and when people went to the canteen he could not step on his feet, he had to limp, and convict Molotov repeated constantly: “You are a fag, we have no sick people in the squad”, but he kept limping because all his heels were damaged. When people came back from the canteen, all the superiors used to get together, take Dzhavoyan away and beat him. A few days later we all gathered for dinner, we were standing outside, the squad superiors took Dzhavoyan outside, he was wearing only his trousers and no shirt and he was taken to the medical unit, at that time he already had a scraping breathing”.

Moltov himself insists that the convict had already been beaten when he was taken to the squad, “his state was ****** [serious]” and he complained about the pain in the heart. He says: “Rasul answered the phone and called Voloshin, he was on duty that day. Rasul explained everything to him. Voloshin replied that he knew that ******** [scoundrel], and he was just pretending. Let Molotov give him a shake and send him outside to work with brushes”. 

According to the words of other convicts, the above-mentioned Rasul Akhmedov (the name is changed) was at the top of the hierarchy of the activists and personally communicated with Vasily Voloshin and his deputies. Convict Stanislav Rostov (the name is changed) remembers: “He is the most important person in the colony, so to say. He is the main “red” among the convicts”.

The bodies of Dzhavoyan and Kozlov were taken to the medical unit by the convicts working there. Officially the administration of the colony declared that the causes of the deaths of both men were natural. Andrey Sholokhov (the name is changed), who has been working in the medical unit of Penal Colony No. 14 for many years, said that when the beaten Dzhavoyan was taken there, Vasily Voloshin himself asked to give him sweet coffee from the syringe while Rasul Akhmedov switched on the camera and tried to make the beaten man say that he had just fallen. Dzhavoyan “could not say anything distinctly” and died soon after medical workers came. According to Sholokhov’s words, emergency doctors who arrived to the medical unit gave a preliminary conclusion about the pulmonary edema of the dead person; all the convicts and the colony officers wrote in their explanatory reports that he had fallen from the stairs.

Activist Molotov says when after Dzhavoyan‘s death the inspection came to the colony and he went to give his evidence, the colony administration officers put a switched on voice recorder into his pocket, “so as he could not back up”.

Convict Sholokhov who has been working in the medical unit since 2005 remembers how they were concealing the cases of deaths caused by tortures and abuse. He says that following the instructions of the colony administration he himself replaced the X-ray images to leave no evidence of violence that the convicts were subjected to. For instance, according to Sholokhov’s words, in 2013 he made an X-ray of the convict that revealed fractured ribs, but head of the operating unit Aleksey Nichivoda told him “not to show the image to the doctors and bring it to him to his room”. The next day the convict died.

In his application to the human right activists Sholokhov wrote: “For five years convict Akhmedov (with the approval of Voloshin V.S.) brought the convicts to me or took me to the living zone, isolation ward, industrial zone to sew the cuts, remove the scale from the eyes, make X-ray behind the back of the doctors. He took X-ray room keys from those on duty (with the approval of Voloshin). All this was done in order not to make records in the injuries log and to avoid public disclosure.   If the convict’s injury was complicated he was taken to the hospital or the surgeon was invited to provide aid.  If he was taken to the hospital, he had a made-up story and there was a video record proving that no one had beaten the convict and he himself was to blame for the accident.

Speaking about his work in the medical unit he mentions the beaten convict  whose death he saw in the isolation ward; the convict who “was beaten with fists on back of his neck that resulted in cerebellum concussion”; the man “who was covered with blood and lying in the corridor”; when they brought to him “the convict with a broken skull in the area of his ear, and he was dead”, as well as the corpse of the convict about whom Sholokhov “later learnt that he had been abused in the squad and he could not bear that abuse and ran and hit his head on the wall which resulted in brain bleeding”. 

Andrey Sholokhov insisted that all deaths on the territory of the colony were registered, that the convict died from natural causes in the medical unit and he (as well as all others) confirmed that in his explanatory reports.

Apart from people who died Sholokhov mentions several cases when convicts cut themselves and injured themselves in protest. For example in 2011 he helped eight people sew their wounds, they arrived from the prisoner transport and cut their veins and bellies, and in 2014 he was asked to help the convict with the cuts on the belly and on the fore arm, and while he was sewing the wounds, the colony officer and the convict-activist together were “threatening to tie him naked to the floor or, better still, rape him”.

Vasily Voloshin

“A truly secure colony”

“If you ask human rights activists, if you ask convicts, if you ask the relatives of convicts, they will surely say that the colony is the one where people are tortured. But if you ask the employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service, they will say that this is an ideal, exemplary colony where everything is in complete order”, says Oleg Khabibrakhmanov.

According to his words, the mere fact of quite fast career growth of Vasily Voloshin from the position of the junior inspector to the position of the Head of the Colony demonstrates that the regional administration of the Federal Penitentiary Service was quite satisfied with the results of his work.

Oleg Khabibrakhmanov: “As the employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service put it in a politically correct manner, this colony was considered to be an excellent, truly secure one. As the Head of the Colony said himself – an ideal, exemplary one where everything shall be according to the law. From this point of view it has the right to exists; we have to take this into account”.

According to him, the human right activists have been receiving reports on rapes and tortures in Penal Colony No. 14 for many years, but there have been no chance to prosecute anyone; the personnel of the administration managed to destroy the evidence, intimidated the convicts who were writing complaints and made them deny their own words; and the Public Prosecutor’s Office looked right through these problems and ignored them.

Khabibrakhmanov points out that the distance between the entrance to the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Sukhobezvodnoe settlement and the Colony gates is about two hundred meters but the Prosecutor, Sergey Morozov, who was in charge of supervising the legal order in Penal Colony No. 14, was “unbelievably blind”, according to the words of human rights activists.

Convict-activist, Nikolay Molotov, remembers the episode when after another death in the colony he witnessed “the conversation Stepanych made (Vasily Stepanovich Voloshin — author’s comment) with Morozov about this corpse” and “Morozov gave his recommendation how to do everything properly”. If we trust Morozov’s words, Voloshin together with Morozov watched the video recording of the last hours of the beaten convict and “the recording had to be destroyed”. “Morozov ate and drank so much, it’s time for him to pay back”, said Voloshin (according to Molotov’s words) when he hung up after the conversation with the prosecutor when he asked “to destroy the papers” of the regular inspection.

Khabibrakhmanov says: “We could not gather any evidence there, as the relatives report that our man is tortured, then we go there and see him actually beaten. We take him for medical examination which reveals rectum and sphincter disruption, etc. The Prosecutor comes and records his explanations. The convict says: “Guys, they tortured me so much I just have to put these bastards in jail”. Two weeks later we have the information which is absolutely different. Now it turns out he injured himself and he did it because members of the Public Monitoring Committee told him to do it and forced him to do it!”

Ivan Zhiltsov (another member of Nizhny Novgorod Public Monitoring Committee) explains that the convict who said about extremely refined tortures (“According to his words, they put a rubber hose into the man’s rectum and switched on the water”, says Khabibrakhmanov) was left on the territory of the penal colony during the inspection and investigation. So the members of the Federal Penitentiary Service did not transfer him to another place and did not provide any safety for him; even urgent communication of the complaint addressed to the European Court of Human Rights did not help. Eventually the convict denied his own words and the case was closed. Zhiltsov assumes that the required effect was gained not even due to threats or violence but by means of promises to close his own case and further discharge.

“This police agent is very well trained, he is not a silly one, and he is extremely cunning. It’s a different matter that, at first glance, an absence of any strategic thinking let him down” – that’s how Oleg Khabibrakhmanov characterizes Head of Penal Colony No. 14 Vasily Voloshin. According to his words, Voloshin “clearly believed that he was the only person to understand this field of life”, and he ignored the warnings that this system could not last long and “it would certainly explode”.

Neither the administration of the Chief Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service for Nizhny Novgorod nor the Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigation Committee responded to any reports about the situation in the penal colony. “There is no understanding — the colony is silent, no complaints go from there”.

Complaints and punishments. “The method they use works without a hitch”

According to the phrase of Nikita Nikiforov (the name is changed), one of the active “complainers” of Penal Colony No. 14, the situation of those who dared to write a complaint “dramatically worsened: the convicts are tortured and sexually abused”, so they “are horrified to report to the regulatory authorities”.

“He was transferred to us as “a penalized person”, it means a convict who committed an offense”, activist from squad 12 Nikolay Molotov tells about Nikiforov. His offense was involved writing a complaint when he was taken from the colony to the pre-trial detention center for investigation. Molotov asserts that he witnessed the telephone conversation between activist Vadim Khorev (the name is changed; and according to Molotov’s words, after his release Khorev was killed by unknown people) and Head of the Colony Vasily Voloshin: ”Voloshin told Khorev that Nikiforov will be brought to squad 12 to him and they have “to work with him”. This, as a rule, meant applying physical forces, rubbing the floors, cleaning the urinal unit, and moral humiliation”. The activist remembers that in the squad Nikiforov was beaten with a stick on his heels”. 

“It is a big problem to write a complaint from the zone. Well, it is impossible for an ordinary convict”, says Rostov. The convict remembers: “It was impossible to speak to the member of the Federal Service for Execution of Punishment who had a room next door to the squad premises”. “He is there, but it is impossible to get to him, because they did not let me go there. It means if I go there, I will be caught on my way there and killed. Well, I mean, beaten. And even if I run into his room, I will not be able to push inside, because when he is there, activists control everyone three times more stringently”. The letters perceived by the censor as complaints on the penal colony conditions were not sent to the addressee, and finally fell into the hands of the colony main activist who solved the problem with those who dared to speak in his own way and they went silent.

Activist Molotov told us the story of one of the convicts who dared to complain. According to his words, there was convict Tatischev (the name is changed), who arrived to the colony with a prisoner transport, and “representatives of some organization on tortures had to visit him later”.

“Some time later [the convicts-activists], Volodin and Polischuk (the names are changed — author’s comment), came to my squad — says Molotov, — They told me that, in fact, Tatischev had visitors and he gave his evidence. But when that committee was leaving, there was an entry in the log that no breaches had been found. Volodin and Polischuk came to the quarantine to convict Tatischev and started abusing him; Borisov said that they put a parcel on his head and tightened it but he managed to make a whole there with his teeth. Then there was a second parcel and a third. They put parcels on him until he started to suffocate. Tatischev begged them to stop it. And they recorded everything on the camera, they way he was crying and begging. He swore that there would be no complaints and he would give no more evidence. That is the story told by Volodin and Polischuk. They say this method works without a hitch”.

Members of Nizhny Novgorod public monitoring committee Ivan Zhiltsov and Dmitry Utukin tell the story of an activist on duty who was cruelly punished in public because a freelance teacher of the technical school managed to bring a phone to the colony and hid it in the turner. According to their words, first they were told about the case with the phone by the witnesses of the incident, and later the aggrieved person himself made a complaint. When the phone was discovered, everyone who studied in the technical school was lined up by the activists, who started to beat them demanding the explanations of how the phone turned out to be there. Finally, the blame was cast onto the person who was on duty in the technical school, another activist, who was immediately sexually abused in public. Rostov who happened to be a witness of the abuse, remembers: “He was beaten, well, in public, then they put off his trousers and made him bend, took the chisel of the shovel, put some baby cream on it and stuck it into his…”.

Regime. “All movements are made in the form of running with stooped heads”

Tortures in the colony started immediately after new convicts in transit arrived to the facility. “When they just arrive, there are no members of the administration, well, there is just one member of the security department. The rest is done by the convicts: new convicts are examined, all their belongings are taken away, only underwear and socks are left, nothing else. The employees do nothing, just stand and watch”, says Stanislav Rostov in his interview to the members of “The Committee for Prevention of Torture”.

According to his words, at first the examination of ”convicts in transit” was performed in the punitive isolation ward, and “everything there was performed in a civilized and polite manner”. “The member of the administration is just present there, but he demonstrates no interest to what is going on and is looking in the window… The interrogation of the convicts in transit, records into the log, the information of their date of birth, previous job, the section of the law, the prison term, everything is recorded by the convicts”, remembers Rostov.

After that they were transferred to quarantine, the room where all new-comers are kept in the beginning.

Rostov says: “We enter the quarantine room, I mean, we ran into it, we always have to run. That reminded me of the movie I watched, about particular treatment zones; we ran into the ward, our hands behind our backs, we were allowed to move only in the form of running, our heads stooped”. It was the quarantine room where Rostov was beaten for the first time for his smiling to the fellow country man that he met”.

Photo: Vitaly Nevar / TASS

He remembers his arrival to Penal Colony No. 14: “Absolutely everyone was beaten. There was no one who could escape the beating“. Convict Egor Podosinov (the name is changed) who was on duty that night in the quarantine room, says that with the consent and approval of the administration the local logistics manager and his assistants “were bullying all new convicts” and “they spared no one”. According to his words, those who were proud and showed their character were not just beaten: their hands and legs were scotch taped, they were beaten with a stick on their heels and “a chisel of the shovel was stuck between their legs and buttocks”.

“This method was used to turn convicts into animals with gregarious instinct without their right to say anything and without their own opinion. Punitive methods, tortures and torment became a character-building activities system of Head of Security and Field Work V.S.Voloshin, that aimed at reformation of convicts and their total obedience in catering to any whims”, wrote another convict, Nikita Nikiforov, in his complaint addressed to Head of the Investigation Committee Mr. Bastrykin.

Activists demanded from all convicts in transit a statement of cooperation with the administration and another statement that they had no complaints about other convicts and employees of Penal Colony No. 14. According to Nikiforov, in the text of a standard application they had to specify that in case of any complaints the convicts themselves “ask to transfer them into the category of the offended”. This fact was confirmed by other convicts, too. Besides, all the newly arrived convicts were made to provide full confessions with fictional crimes; as the convicts say activists helped them write these papers. Judging by the fact that no criminal cases were opened or investigated based on these confessions these papers were kept in case of future complaints.

“Everyone says “hello”, strict compliance with the daily regimen, wakeup on time, bedtime on time, total attendance for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if they have to go for a walk, they go for a walk even if it is minus 30 outside; if they have to walk for two hours they will have to be outside for two hours. I saw something of the kind in the penal battalion, there is one left in Russia, it is in our region and it is in the area of attention of our public monitoring committee. This reminds me of it, all convicts are always busy with something. They have zero free time”, says Oleg Khabibrakhmanov about the regime in Penal Colony No. 14.

Obligatory morning exercises. If they go to the canteen, they do it in line again and in the form of running. “They have to sit all together by the order. The senior person on duty in the squad gives the order. They take off their hats and sit. All must sit together. If someone sits differently, they will talk with him about it later, individually”, remembers ex-convict Rostov. They have five minutes to have lunch: “You have five minutes to eat this dish, the first dish, the second dish and run”.

Cleaning in the squad – three times a day. Rostov describes: “Hurry up! Take the soap here and run!” If you refuse to do something, he (the activist — author’s comment) beats you. Well, a cuff on the nape, a kick in the arse  – this is typical. “Run! Come on, go and wash the toilet! Hurry up!” They have no right to communicate among each other. Those who try to object are beaten.

Convict Podosinov remembers: “I was beaten with a stick on my heels. Other convicts were holding me so that I could not get away”. He and other victims say that another type of beating was typical –  1.5 l bottle filled with water was used for beating on the head, on the neck, the body; the bottle leaves no bruises.

Another method of punishment is pouring cold water onto somebody and leaving him to stay in cold weather. Activist Molotov retells the story of two of his “colleagues” about the convict they were abusing: “Oleg (the name is changed — author’s comment) said that I was pouring water onto him for an hour, and he lost consciousness. Now he is sleeping, I threw some shreds onto him. He will recover. I had one who spent four hours in cold water and he slept 24 hours. Rasul asked who that person was. Oleg replies, the one from the single-space chamber-type facility”. SSCTF — the single-space chamber-type facility, where the colony administration sends the worst offenders. The mentioned convict died. Molotov says: “Some time later Rasul said that this ******* Oleg went too far, Stepanych has to solve the problem, and the man has old bruisers. Generally speaking, there is a slight problem”.

Khabibrakhmanov believes: “Physical abuse was used in the colony, basically, to keep the order. People had to know their place at once. To prevent people from making plans to complain, make them march in line, say “hello” to everyone immediately”. According to his words, tortures served not only as punishment for breaking the order, they were used to make convicts give confessionary statements.

Premises functioning as a confinement cell. “Good psychologists among the operational personnel”

There was a room in Penal Colony No. 14 that functioned as a confinement cell: according to the law, convicts who commit crimes in the colony or the accused defendants who have to participate in investigative activities on the territory of Sukhobezvodnensky region shall be kept there. But, according to the words of human rights activists, accused people from neighboring regions (not only Nizhny Novgorod region) were regularly sent there.
According to the convicts’ complaints, that’s where the cruelest tortures were applied. Khabibrakhmanov points out: “The major torture complaints included tortures which were applied in the premises functioning as a confinement cell; the toughest people under investigation were sent there, people involved in serious criminal cases, as a rule, linked, with organized crime or economic cases with big money involved there”.

He says: “Everyone came back with a confession from the premises. Total repentance. I do not know people who came back from the premises functioning as a confinement cell without saying what that had to say. In fact, a widely-known place in narrow circles”. According to Khabibrakhmanov, Head of Penal Colony No. 14 Vasily Voloshin   explained this by the fact that “the operative personnel involve really good psychologists”.

“They convince and reach conscience.   The convict who spent two years in the investigation detention facility and never gave any confessions was sent to the premises functioning as a confinement cell and two days later he told all the truth, that’s how the conscious touched him to the heart. And his confessions involved not only incriminated offences, but any offences at all”, says the human rights activist with a grin.

The arrested person who was sent to the premises functioning as a confinement cell and asked to give his confessions describes just one episode of abuse: “When I was taken for a walk, I was put a dark bag on my head. They started to strangle me scotch taping my legs and heads behind my back. I managed to get rid of the bag for while and saw three convicts wearing masks and one of the escort officers who helped people attacking me to tie me up. Then they started to strangle me… and they succeeded in doing so and they scotched taped me. They scotch taped my hands and legs and brought me to the prison yard. They kicked me down onto the pavement and started to pour cold water on me. They poured cold water on me, took away my clothes and at the same time they were strangling me with this bag twisting my arms. They were pouring called water on me for a long time and then they stuck that hose into my anus”.

“The colony changed the color”. Voloshin is on the wanted list for stealing the bread bin 

By the spring 2015 the administration of the colony could not successfully conceal the deaths of the convicts and the violence applied to them any longer, there were too many complaints addressed to the human right activists and to the law enforcement agencies, the cases were too evident. Upon the death of two convicts caused by beating criminal cases were opened. About 25 convicts were sent by prison transport from Penal Colony No. 14 to other institutions. Members of the public monitoring committee received 130 new complaints about tortures, and in one of the squads a hook was found mounted to the ceiling where, according to the convicts’ words, they were hung with their heads down when they were tortured.

But convicts still were scared to provide their evidence: they received threats from the remained activists of Penal Colony No. 14, and some of them who gave no evidence at all were abused nevertheless on their coming back to the colony “just as a preventive measure”. Eventually, the Investigating Committee opened criminal cases based on the fact of the deaths of only three convicts: Kulemin, Miraz Dzhavoyan and Alexander Kalyakin, as well as with regards to the fact of raping the person kept in the premises functioning as a confinement cell. Investigating officers refused to open cases on the deaths of eight more convicts, complaints about beating made by a dozen and half of convicts were also left without attention, and the investigation of some opened cases was suspended.

Another case on swindling was opened on the fact of racketeering the flat from convict Anatoly Grebnev; at the present time judicial proceedings on that case are taking place, but only one criminal defendant is left in the dock.

In the beginning of April Deputy Head of the Colony Aleksey Zaitsev was charged with abuse of office (part 1 Article 286 Criminal Code; at present the case is closed). In June after the inspection revealing “the facts of violating the official activities” Head of Penal Colony No. 14 and creator of its exemplary system Vasily Voloshin was removed from his post. In July the Head Department of Nizhny Novgorod Federal Penitentiary Service Viktor Dezhurov lost his position.

In October prosecutor’s investigation found “violation of labor rights of convicts, the convicts’ rights for qualified medical aid in the medical unit of the institution, as well as other violations of penal law”.

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Photo: Yury Tutov / TASS

At the same time, in the middle of October former Head of the colony Voloshin was charged with conversion in possession another person’s property using his official position (part 3, Article 160 Criminal Code). According to the investigation version, he gave an illegal order to convicts “to make wooden items and pieces of furniture (including pictures, sofas, armchairs and a crib) for his personal use, the total cost of which was 20,130 roubles”. He took away all these items from the territory of the colony in summer 2015. The items that were, in fact, stolen by Voloshin included a bread bin. Besides, one more criminal case was opened in relation to Voloshin based on illegal logging of 165 trees performed by “convicts following the order of the administration” — now it is part 3 Article 260 Criminal Code (illegal logging of foreign vegetation); the losses caused by the logging were estimated as amounting to 900 thousand roubles.

The Head of Penal Colony was charged in absentia on the case of bread-bin stealing. He himself escaped and according to the information that the investigators have “he is not on the territory of the Russian Federation”. Voloshin is put on the wanted list. According to the information of channel “Russia” , he may be in Lviv.

Oleg Khabibrakhmanov assumes that a bread-bin stealing is only a pretext necessary to interrogate Voloshin about the events in Penal Colony No. 14: “In my opinion, they want to interrogate him exactly about the organization of the regime in this colony and they need some formality to give them a chance to put him on the wanted list and take him to the Investigating Committee. That’s what I think”.

After mass-scale inspections in the colony and dismissing Voloshin the situation here has changed dramatically. It was the first time in many years that people who suffered from violence were transferred from Penal Colony No. 14 to other places of detention where they could feel safe.
Khabibrakhmanov says: “There was no risk there already that they would be abused, and all of them were interrogated. These people gave their evidence. Quite easily. It turns out that it was possible”.

At some moment human rights activists started to receive reports on violence in Penal Colony No. 14 again, but they were already in relation to ex-activists that had lost their power. So, in September 2015 a group of convicts with wooden sticks found their way to one of the squads and beat five convicts quite cruelly, four of them had been cooperating with the administration when Voloshin had been the Head of the Colony. One of the aggrieved convicts fell into a coma. Soon after that most ex-activists were transferred into other colonies and there were no more complaints. Zhiltsov explains: “Almost all “red “assistant managers”, in fact, were taken away from there. That was done to prevent other convicts from doing something to them“.

In the prosecutor’s citation published by “Krinimalnaya Khronika”, a print media from Nizhny Novgorod, it is mentioned that after the “malpractice of empowering convicts with authority by the employees of the administration was stopped in spring 2015, the situation in the penal colony remains anything but simple”. 

The Prosecutor’s Office points out: “The conversations with convicts helped to determine that there is a potential dangerous situation in Penal Colony No. 14, which is due to active attempts of the criminal world leaders to seize power in the colony, declaring the so-called “amnesty” to the convicts who had previously been assisting the administration of this institution.

Khabibrakhmanov states: “The colony, as they say, changed the color. We switched one extreme situation for another. It means that convicts still control the situation as they used to. The only difference is that previously there were the convicts that cooperated with the administration and now these are the convicts that cooperate with the criminal world. Many people say that you, members of public monitoring committee, need all zones to become “black”. No, nothing of the kind. We support the idea of something in between; convicts shall not control the situation there, this function shall be performed by the representatives of the administration. The law shall be complied with”.

According to the words of the human rights activist, “no order has established there, which means the convicts obviously relaxed, the colony turned into a typical black one; of course, the perimeter is guarded rigorously, but the convicts inside it do whatever they want to do”.

Egor Skovoroda
Source: Medizona