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Three citizens serving sentence at Penal Colony No.15 in the Irkutsk region, applied to the Committee Against Torture for legal assistance. They reported having been subjected to tortures by the Federal Penitentiary Service officers and the convicts acting at the instructions thereof, after the protest action which took place in April 2020. The Committee Against Torture started a public investigation.
Lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Vladimir Smirnov (on the left) questions Ilya Shevchenko.
The protest action of the convicts at the Angarsk penal colony which took place in the night from 9 to 10 April was brutally suppressed by the Federal Penitentiary Service officers and the special ops unit. After that, many convicts were taken to other institutions, including Pre-trial detention centers No.1 (Irkutsk) and No.6 (Angarsk). There, according to the men’s testimony, the arrived convicts were subjected to brutal treatment and tortures aimed at obtaining evidence on the riot’s instigators. The convicts who remained at the penal colony were also subjected to violence.
Several human rights organizations are working with the torture victims, since the number of victims is significant. According to the applicants, the scale and brutality of violence is staggering. In addition, different victims point at the same officers of the Federal Penitentiary Service and the convicts-“activists”.
Ilya Shevchenko from the Irkutsk region, who was released from Penal Colony No.15 in the end of 2020, told that after the riot he was beaten up by the penal colony officers. Several days later, a medical unit officer applied force against him during the wounds examination. Ilya supposes that it was caused by his complaints against failure to provide medical assistance with regard to his chronic illness. Regular batteries did not stop at that. Shevchenko claims that the penal colony officers instructed the activists who should be subjected to violence publicly, before the convicts’ formation.
“The convicts who are in agreement with the penal colony officers are called “activists”, — lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Vladimir Smirnov explains. — Usually they enjoy some liberties and may claim better confinement conditions by doing dirty job for the officers”.
Khumaid Khaidayev, who, at the present moment, is one of the main defendants in the case of the riot, told that after the protest action was over, he was beaten up by the officers of Penal Colony No.15, who applied truncheons, sticks, boards, arms and feet. As a result, his ribs and toes were broken. When Khaidayev was convoyed to Pre-trial detention center No.1, he was put with arms tied with scotch tape trough the “corridor” of the penitentiary officers who were beating him. Subsequently, Khumaid was taken to the cell with “activists” by hanging him by his hands and feet between the beds and inflicted the burns to him with a red-hot metal spoon. According to Khaydayev, his jaw was broken.
Evgeny Gavrish, the third applicant, said that he was also beaten up after the riot and was convoyed to Pre-trial detention center No.6. Evgeny was regularly beaten up by the “activists”. They forced him to write about the protest participants and their roles. In addition, in presence of Gavrish, an acquaintance of his, convoyed from the Penal Colony No.15, was raped. According to Evgeny, one of the Pre-trial detention facility officers forced the convicts to stay in a cell in an inconvenient position for many days.
“According to some of the victims, the batteries after the riot looked like a revenge for some previous strife between the convicts and Penal Colony No.15 officers. For example, Shevchenko, according to him, was abused at the medical unit since previously he had been complaining of a failure to provide medical assistance to him, — Vladimir Smirnov, the Committee’s lawyer, continues. — As if the good excuse was found to settle old scores with the undesirable, because, according to the convicts, the instructions to the activists as to who needs “to be worked with”, were given clearly and publicly.
Previously, the Department of the Investigative Committee for the Irkutsk region initiated a number of criminal cases with regard to reports of tortures at the institutions of the regional Federal Penitentiary Service related to the riot. On 1 February 2021, a criminal case was initiated based on the fact of violence applied against Evgeny Yurchenko, who told about “live corridors”, systematic batteries in Pre-Trial Detention and applying electricity against him and his acquaintance, as well as about sexual violence against other convicts.
Starting from December of last year, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture together with lawyers with Foundation “To Protect the Rights of Convicts” have been representing Yurchenko’s interests. At the present time, Foundation “To Protect the Rights of Convicts” continues to work on the Yurchenko case and applicants of other convicts, whereas the Committee Against Torture provides legal assistance to Ilya Shevchenko, Khumaidu Khaydayev and Evgeny Gavrish.
“The cynicism of tortures at the Angarsk Penal Colony is appalling. According to one of the applicants, during the battery a song with lines “Vasilisa likes to have fun a lot” was turned on for the convicts and it was used as a soundtrack for the battery, — Vladimir Smirnov describes. — We shall insist that these people are declared victims. If the guilty of tortures are punished, there is a chance that the penal system will rehabilitate itself, to some extent. If this does not happen, then violence at the Federal Penitentiary Service institutions will increase not only at the institutions of the Angarsk colony”.