During personal appointment with Deputy Head of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region Pavel Oleynik, lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Sergey Shounin informed the law-enforcement executive on inefficient investigation based on numerous applications from convicts who suffered in Penal Colony No.14 (the Nizhny Novgorod region, Sukhovobezvodnoye settlement). The convicts claim that former head of the penal colony Vasily Voloshin was in charge of the committed abuse.
As we have previously reported, in June 2015, after the check which revealed “the facts of violations in official activity”, head of Penal Colony No. 14 Vasily Voloshin was dismissed from office. On 16 July 2015, criminal case was initiated against him, and in October of the same year Vasily Voloshin was added to the federal, and later on, to the international wanted lists on a charge of committing a number of crimes against property.
Penal Colony No. 14 has been in the sphere of attention of human rights activists with the Committee Against Torture and members of Human Rights Observance in Detention Facilities Public Monitoring Committee for a long time.
The penal institution became notorious due to a large number of complaints against brutal treatment and tortures of convicts, as well as to numerous cases of forcing to confess using tortures and violent actions of sexual character.
From applications and explanations of some of the convicts it follows that they were convoyed to Penal Colony No.14 in order to obtain confessions of committed crimes and because of this they were subjected to systematic batteries in the penal colony.
For the period from 2011 to 2015 the Committee received 184 applications based on facts of torture, extortions, violent actions of sexual character and psychological pressure. The complaints mainly concerned the convicts who collaborated with the Penal Colony administration and were actually performing the function of the authority in the colony: they could punish the convicts at their will, as well as could freely move around the facility territory.
Apart from complaints of torture, the Committee received 155 complaints related to violations of labor, medical and other rights of the convicts.
During the public investigation, human rights defenders became aware of eight convicts and suspects who died in the penal colony. Most fatalities fall on the period from 2012 to 2015 and, according to the colony administration’s theory, were caused by falls from the stairs, heart failures or suicides.
According to the applicants, numerous traumas and deaths were thoroughly concealed. Things came to such a pitch that involved retouching of post-mortem photos.
Only one case based on the facts of murders in the penal colony was brought to court. On 17 March 2017 Aleksey Kueznetsov, serving sentence in Penal Colony No.14, was convicted for murder of Miraz Djavoyan in 2014. During judicial examination theory of Djavoyan falling from the stairs as a cause of death was disproved. This theory was supported by some witnesses, including those who spoke on behalf of the penal colony administration.
For more details on what Penal Colony No.14 was in times of Vasily Voloshin being in charge see MediaZone material, as well as a special website dedicated to Vasily Voloshin’s search.
At the present time lawyers with the Committee Against Torture represent the interests of the victims in two criminal cases based on deaths of convicts in Penal Colony No.14. As of today, the criminal cases are suspended due to “impossibility of establishing the person subjected to bringing to responsibility in the capacity of a defendant”.
Human rights defenders represent the interests of several convicts who complained of batteries and tortures. Pre-investigation check is being performed now in connection with these complaints.
Investigators’ work in these cases cannot be called satisfactory. Necessary investigative and checking activities are either not conducted at all or conducted partially, after applications and complaints of human rights defenders. Lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Sergey Shonin told about it in the course of personal appointment with Deputy Head of the Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod region Pavel Oleynik.
“It is obvious that the superiors of the penal institution shall take responsibility for the environment created in the colony. However, former head of Penal Colony No.14 Vasily Voloshin, who is included in the federal and international wanted lists, is wanted only due to illegal deforestation and theft of property of the colony, the list of which includes a breadbox. Investigative authorities have not yet charged Voloshin with abuse of office, – Sergey Shounin comments. – I hope that the personal appointment would not be conducted in vain, and the superiors of the Investigative Department will hear us and will join the numerous cases of tortures and murders of the convicts in one proceeding, and will be able to establish the involvement in them of former superiors of the penal colony”.