On 17 August 2015 members Member of the Public Monitoring Commission for monitoring the human rights observance in the detention facilities for the Nizhny Novgorod region (NNR) Andrey Bulanov, Natalya Zhukova, Nikolay Korolev and Dmitry Utukin visited Penal Colony No.14 (Sukhobezvodnoye settlement). In the course of the visit to the facility the public monitors received 130 applications from the convicts, the major part of which mainly concerned with torture and abuse, violation of labor rights and poor quality of medical assistance or its absence. Member of PMC Dmitry Utukin submitted a crime report to the Investigative Committee, and filed applications to the Prosecutor’s Office and medical department of the Chief Directorate of Federal Penitentiary Service for the Nizhny Novgorod region.
The convicts told the human right defenders that on 16 August 2015 they demanded to meet the Prosecutor and representatives of the Department of Internal Security of the Chief Directorate of Federal Penitentiary Service for the Nizhny Novgorod region. Starting from Sunday the Prosecutor’s Office and Federal Penitentiary Service officers received complaints from the convicts. No violence was used either by the convicts or by the colony administrative staff. Part of the convicts who collaborated with the administration of the Penal Colony and who other convicts complained against, were moved to a safe location.
Over a hundred applicants turned to PMC members with complaints against torture, blackmail, physical violence. 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.
According to the applicants, one could get punishment for violation of prison rules (for example, unmade bed or unbuttoned collar), as well as for an attempt to submit a complaint to different authorities. And punitive measures were most elaborate. Often the convicts were forced with battery to confess of crimes they never committed. Torture was used, many convicts complained they were beaten with a spade handle in order to avoid leaving visible marks of bodily injuries. The convicts also showed a hook beaten into a ceiling, on which, according to the convicts, people were hanged upside down and beaten up. Some convicts claimed their teeth knocked out and fingers broken. Moral coercion was also used. People were made to rub the toilets for days on end from wakeup till retreat; to pack the soil with a thirty kilograms log; to take water from the first to the second floor. At the same time such work did not have any practical sense, their aim was merely to humiliate the convicts and suppress their will. Some convicts agreed to provide an explanation for the record.
Member of NNR PMC Dmitry Utukin: «We divided the applications into three groups. Majority of complaints is related to using violence against the convicts, we decided to summarize them and submit for check to the Investigative Committee. Another group of complaints is related to violation of labor rights. Some convicts received a very small salary (200-300 rubles per month) or did not get any salary at all. Working day lasted 10-12 hours, almost without days-off. We intend to submit such applications to the Prosecutor’s Office. Other convicts complained of absence of medical assistance or its poor quality. We are going to submit such applications to the medical department of the Chief Directorate of Federal Penitentiary Service for the Nizhny Novgorod region.
I hope that the law-enforcement agencies and supervisory authorities will at last deal with this notorious Penal Colony. I’d like to emphasize that the situation in this facility got nearly critical and almost went out of control, partly due to poor supervision by the Sukhobezvodnenskaya Prosecutor’s Office on Monitoring the Detention Facilities and due to inaction of the Semenovsky Interdistrict Investigative Department, to which the human rights defenders from the Committee Against Torture filed a crime report on behalf of fifteen convicts in April of this year. For over four months there have been no clear answer from the Investigative Committee».