Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of allowing prison guards to abuse and mutilate inmates in various jails nationwide inside what is called the country's "torture conveyor belt" after leaked video footage goes viral.
The alleged video of the brutal acts was leaked to campaigners and seemed to show jail guards terrorizing prisoners and subjecting them to derogatory treatment. The video shows at least five inmates suffering as being urinated on, raped, and violated with the use of blunt objects.
Russian Torture Conveyor Belt
The leaked footage shows what is considered the latest in a series of videos taken by a Belarussian man that was jailed in Saratov and given out to campaigners Gulagu.net. The group said that the brutal and horrific abuses occurred in OTB-1, a prison located in the Saratov region near the border with Kazakhstan.
The leader of the group, Vladimir Osechkin, wrote on its website that they were continuing their independent investigation regarding the torture conveyor belt. The official said that they were looking into the brutal acts conducted in the institutions of the Federal Penitentiary Service, the New York Post reported.
Gulagu.net claims that rape gangs were used by the prison hospital as cover so that they could commit sexual assaults, film the victims, and send the videos to authorities for use as blackmail. A previous video showed one inmate writhing in pain while being tied to a bed. A prison guard could be seen using a mop to rape him.
The man who orchestrated the leak of the video, Sergey Savelyev, revealed that he was a prisoner inside the institution for two years, secretly recording the footage. He was recently released earlier this year and was able to carry with him a two-terabyte hard disk containing the recordings out into the public.
Savelyev, who was now seeking asylum in France, said in an interview that everyone heard about the incidents inside the prisons. However, he noted that hearing about the horrific acts and seeing them personally were two very different things, Daily Star reported.
Brutal and Horrific Acts
Campaigners said that while the videos they currently had were recordings of horrific acts within the Saratov jail, they were working on uncovering similar crimes in other institutions. A post on the group's website said that they have collected hundreds of documents new video files that confirm the widespread torture in FISN institutions and the FSB's involvement in various violations and crimes.
Despite Gulagu.net being blocked from Russia's internet world and the site's founder, Osechkin also hiding in France, the leaked videos have still caused a widespread outcry in their home country. While an investigation was underway, several prison officers have already been removed from their positions as 38 senior officials are set to testify regarding the scandal.
The head of the Saratov prison service, Anton Yefarkin, also revealed that 18 officials were fired, 11 of which are facing "the strictest" disciplinary measures. Authorities have opened five criminal cases in connection to the acts seen in the videos, said the official, Daily Mail reported.