Warning: The article contains graphic content.
Russia’s prison service said Wednesday it had sacked five officers, including the head of an infirmary and a regional chief, after harrowing videos emerged of alleged rape in a jail hospital.
Videos of alleged rape and torture at a prison infirmary treating inmates with tuberculosis in the central city of Saratov were published this week by Gulagu.net, a rights group aiming to expose abuses in Russia’s vast prison system.
One video shows a man shoving a broom handle up the rectum of a screaming inmate tied to his bed.
The Federal Prison Service (FSIN) swiftly announced a probe, and on Wednesday said that the head of the prison infirmary, Pavel Gatsenko, and three regional prison officials had been sacked.
Alexei Fedotov, the regional head of its Saratov branch, would also be relieved of his post over “serious mistakes” in his work, the FSIN said.
The results of the probe will be handed over to the Investigative Committee, which examines major crimes in Russia, the service added.
The Investigative Committee said it had opened seven criminal inquiries, including into sexual assault and abuse of power in Saratov’s penitentiary system.
“The investigation will give a legal assessment of the actions (or inaction) of the employees of the correctional facility,” it said.
The committee said it had documented crimes against four convicts at the Saratov prison infirmary between January 2020 and May 2021.
Speaking to AFP on Tuesday, Vladimir Osechkin, who oversees Gulagu.net, said that convicts at the Saratov prison infirmary had been abused for years and that authorities had previously turned a blind eye to reports of mistreatment.
Osechkin said his group had obtained a huge trove of secret video files allegedly showing instances of torture in prisons across the country and will gradually release them to draw attention to “systemic” abuse in Russian prisons.
He said prisoners are being abused for the purpose of extorting money or making them to cooperate with wardens, and instances of mistreatment are usually recorded by inmates who work closely with prison authorities.