This article contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some readers.
A prominent NGO that tracks abuses in Russia’s prison system has released a new leaked video that shows inmates being sexually assaulted in a notorious prison hospital at the heart of a national torture scandal.
“These terrifying videos are unpleasant to watch and will cause stress and indignation,” Vladimir Osechkin, the founder of the Gulagu.net rights group, said in a video published on the NGO’s YouTube channel Tuesday.
“But it’s important to show the entire world the torturous essence of Russia’s prison system to punish those guilty and force the Russian authorities to finally end their inhumane secret methods,” Osechkin said.
The graphic video, which contains six clips dated July 2015-September 2020 and is marked 18+ for adult audiences only, showed officers urinating on tied inmates, performing sexual intercourse and penetrating them with blunt objects.
Gulagu.net claimed that the acts of abuse at the prison hospital in the Volga city of Saratov were overseen by senior regional Federal Security Service (FSB) and Federal Prison Service (FSIN) officers, who had allegedly coordinated the actions with federal officials.
Nearly 85,000 people have watched the shocking video in the 12 hours since its publication. Among the several thousand comments, users expressed revulsion at the jarring footage and called for the alleged torturers to be brought to justice.
Gulagu.net’s latest release is part of a massive trove obtained by former inmate Sergei Savelyev, a Belarusian national who smuggled the videos in a USB stick and is currently seeking asylum in France.
Russian police placed Savelyev on a wanted list last month on charges of obtaining legally protected data and sharing it with a third party for media distribution. He could face up to four years in Russian prison if extradited and found guilty.
At least 18 Saratov region FSIN employees have been dishonorably discharged following an internal inspection into the leaked videos, the regional prison systems chief said in a state television interview on Wednesday.
Gulagu.net has sent the torture videos to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).
Osechkin founded the Gulagu.net human rights organization in 2011 to monitor violations of prison inmates' rights across Russia. He left Russia in 2015 and currently resides in France.
The organization’s website was blocked by Russia’s state media watchdog Roskomnadzor in July following requests from the FSB and FSIN.
Russia, alongside Turkey, ranks amongst the countries with the highest proportion of incarcerated people in Europe, according to a recent report by the Council of Europe.
Human rights groups have repeatedly slammed Russia’s "systematic” torture of its inmates.