Horrowing videos, showing how prisoners are tortured and sexually abused in Russian prisons, have recently been leaked by Sergei Savelyev, a former prison inmate from Belarus. As expected, these videos of rape and torture have caused quite a stir. In response, Russia has placed Savelyev, who is currently seeking asylum in France, on a wanted list, with the Interior Ministry website saying that the Belarus national is wanted in connection with an unspecified criminal case.
Earlier, Savelyev was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for drug trafficking. Serving as an IT Maintenance Officer in a jail in the central city of Saratov, he got access to the prison’s internal server and those of other jails. He found several videos on those servers, and saved them on a USB stick. Later, Savelyev managed to hide the USB stick near the prison exit. When some of the videos were published by the Russian rights group Gulagu.net, the concerned authorities sacked several prison officials.
Although the Russian Interior Ministry summoned Savelyev for handing those videos over to Gulagu.net, he did not appear, and fled the country in February 2021. Upon his arrival in France last week, he was placed on the wanted list. Talking to the media in France, Savelyev said: “They are going down the only path they know, the path of force.” He blasted the Russian authorities for trying “to shut my mouth“. The asylum-seeker stressed: “It’s a shame that instead of using the time to reform the system and investigate all this terrible evidence we gave them, they are trying to hide the truth.“
According to Savelyev, brutal torture of prisoners has been going on in Russia for a long time. As for the female prisoners, sexual abuse is a common phenomenon in that country. He claimed that the abuse was often doled out to try to force inmates to confess or inform on other prisoners. Again, the Russian prison officials used those videos of the abuse to blackmail the victim into compliance. Meanwhile, Savelyev stated that the Russian agents had offered him a shorter sentence in return for his cooperation. As “they weren’t interested in knowing anything about Human Rights violations“, he was left with fewer options other than fleeing from this carcinogenic atmosphere, where the Russian agents seemingly were not much bothered about Human Rights violations.
Although France is yet to accept Savelyev’s request for asylum, Defence Experts believe that the Belarus national is in danger, as the Russians shall not spare him. Human Rights violations are common in Russia under President Vladimir Putin’s Authoritarian Regime. Hence, the Russian agents may try to kill Savelyev, who still has many other videos he had collected, while in jail.
It may be noted that pressure against the Kremlin’s most prominent critic, Alexei Navalny, is escalating. Navalny recently said that a Prison Commission had designated him an extremist and a terrorist, but officially no longer regarded him as an escape risk. Navalny further said on Instagram that he had been summoned before a Commission at the prison, which voted unanimously in favour of the change of status. The Kremlin critic is currently serving two and a half years in prison for parole violations.
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